17 things about ISIS and Iraq you need to know

19 Cards

CURATED BY Zack Beauchamp

2014-12-16 15:20:29 -0500

  1. ISIS used to be al-Qaeda in Iraq
  2. ISIS wants to establish a caliphate
  3. The conflict between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias sustains ISIS
  4. Iraq’s former Prime Minister made the ISIS problem worse
  5. ISIS has a really important base in Syria
  6. ISIS funds itself through oil and an extortion racket
  7. The global oil market was spooked by ISIS' initial advance
  8. The conflict has been a boon to Iraq's Kurds — but that may have changed
  9. ISIS isn’t the only anti-government rebel group
  10. ISIS has made significant territorial gains in Iraq
  11. The Iraqi army is much stronger than ISIS, but it’s also kind of a mess
  12. Iran is fighting on the Iraqi government’s side
  13. The US and Iran have talked about Iraq
  14. The US has launched a campaign to destroy ISIS
  15. Some Americans blame Obama for this
  16. Iraq's Sunnis and minorities will probably suffer the most
  17. ISIS captured and executed James Foley and Steven Sotloff, two American journalists
  18. This video explains the crisis in 3 minutes
  19. How have these cards been updated?
  1. Card 1 of 19

    ISIS used to be al-Qaeda in Iraq

  2. Card 2 of 19

    ISIS wants to establish a caliphate

    Since pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004, the group's goal has been remarkably consistent: found a hardline Sunni Islamic state. As General Ray Odierno puts it: "They want complete failure of the government in Iraq. They want to establish a caliphate in Iraq." Even after ISIS split with al-Qaeda in February 2014 (in large part because ISIS was too brutal even for al-Qaeda), ISIS' goal remained the same.

    Today, ISIS holds a fair amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria — a mass roughly the size of Belgium. One ISIS map, from 2006, shows its ambitions stopping there — though interestingly overlapping a lot of oil fields:

    Isis_map_oil

    ISIS/Aaron Zelin

    Another shows their ambitions stretching across the Middle East, and some have apparently even included territory in North Africa:

    Isis_map

    Ali Soufan/ISIS

    Now, they have no chance of accomplishing any of these things in the foreseeable future. ISIS isn't even strong enough to topple the Iraqi or Syrian governments at present. But these maps do tell us something important about ISIS: they're incredibly ambitious, they think ahead, and they're quite serious about their expansionist Islamist ideology.

  3. Card 3 of 19

    The conflict between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias sustains ISIS

  4. Card 4 of 19

    Iraq’s former Prime Minister made the ISIS problem worse

  5. Card 5 of 19

    ISIS has a really important base in Syria

  6. Card 6 of 19

    ISIS funds itself through oil and an extortion racket

  7. Card 7 of 19

    The global oil market was spooked by ISIS' initial advance

  8. Card 8 of 19

    The conflict has been a boon to Iraq's Kurds — but that may have changed

  9. Card 9 of 19

    ISIS isn’t the only anti-government rebel group

  10. Card 10 of 19

    ISIS has made significant territorial gains in Iraq

  11. Card 11 of 19

    The Iraqi army is much stronger than ISIS, but it’s also kind of a mess

  12. Card 12 of 19

    Iran is fighting on the Iraqi government’s side

  13. Card 13 of 19

    The US and Iran have talked about Iraq

  14. Card 14 of 19

    The US has launched a campaign to destroy ISIS

  15. Card 15 of 19

    Some Americans blame Obama for this

  16. Card 16 of 19

    Iraq's Sunnis and minorities will probably suffer the most

  17. Card 17 of 19

    ISIS captured and executed James Foley and Steven Sotloff, two American journalists

  18. Card 18 of 19

    This video explains the crisis in 3 minutes

  19. Card 19 of 19

    How have these cards been updated?

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