Tuesday, March 22, 2016

They have Iraq in their name

Important point identified by Emma Sky in her New York Times book review of Charles Lister's The Syrian Jihad --

Lister dates the arrival of ISIS to spring 2013. In Iraq, the failure of the international community to uphold the 2010 election results, and the support of both Iran and the United States for a second premiership for the sectarian Shiite Nouri al-Maliki, had devastating consequences for the region. Maliki accused Sunni politicians of terrorism and drove them out of the political process. He stopped paying the salaries of the Sahwa (Sunni awakening) that, fighting alongside American forces during the 2007 surge, had defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. He arrested Sunnis en masse. This created the environment that enabled ISIS to rise from the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, presenting itself as the defender of the Sunnis — and then expanding into Syria.

While the rise of ISIS is certainly a story about Syria and the Al-Assad targeting of the moderate opposition, it's also a story of taking the eye of the ball in Iraq. 

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