16 things about ISIS and Iraq you need to know

16 Cards

CURATED BY Zack Beauchamp

2014-06-18 20:16:30 -0400

  1. ISIS used to be al-Qaeda in Iraq
  2. ISIS wants to establish a caliphate
  3. The conflict betweeen Iraqi Sunnis and Shias sustains ISIS
  4. Iraq’s Prime Minister is making 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 is concerned about ISIS' advance
  8. The conflict has been a boon to Iraq's Kurds
  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 are talking about Iraq
  14. Obama might bomb ISIS
  15. Some Americans blame Obama for this
  16. Iraq's Sunnis will probably suffer the most
  1. Card 1 of 16

    ISIS used to be al-Qaeda in Iraq

  2. Card 2 of 16

    ISIS wants to establish a caliphate

  3. Card 3 of 16

    The conflict betweeen Iraqi Sunnis and Shias sustains ISIS

  4. Card 4 of 16

    Iraq’s Prime Minister is making the ISIS problem worse

    ISIS would be able to recruit Sunni fighters off of the Sunni-Shia tension even if Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki weren't in office, but his policies towards the Sunni minority have helped ISIS considerably.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia Muslim, has built a Shia sectarian state and refused to take steps to accommodate Sunnis. Police have killed peaceful Sunni protestors and used anti-terrorism laws to mass-arrest Sunni civilians. Maliki has made political alliances with violent Shia militias, infuriating Sunnis. ISIS cannily exploited that brutality to recruit new fighters.

    When ISIS reestablished itself, it put Sunni sectarianism at the heart of its identity and propaganda. The government persecution, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies' Michael Knights, "played right into their hands." Maliki "made all the ISIS propaganda real, accurate." That made it much, much easier for ISIS to replenish its fighting stock.

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    Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

    That wasn't the only way the Iraqi government helped ISIS grow, according to Knights. The US and Iraqi governments released a huge number of al-Qaeda prisoners from jail, which he thinks called "an unprecedented infusion of skilled, networked terrorist manpower - an infusion at a scale the world has never seen." US forces were running sophisticated raids "every single night of the year," and Knights believes their withdrawal gave ISIS a bit more breathing room.

  5. Card 5 of 16

    ISIS has a really important base in Syria

  6. Card 6 of 16

    ISIS funds itself through oil and an extortion racket

  7. Card 7 of 16

    The global oil market is concerned about ISIS' advance

  8. Card 8 of 16

    The conflict has been a boon to Iraq's Kurds

  9. Card 9 of 16

    ISIS isn’t the only anti-government rebel group

  10. Card 10 of 16

    ISIS has made significant territorial gains in Iraq

  11. Card 11 of 16

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

  12. Card 12 of 16

    Iran is fighting on the Iraqi government’s side

  13. Card 13 of 16

    The US and Iran are talking about Iraq

  14. Card 14 of 16

    Obama might bomb ISIS

  15. Card 15 of 16

    Some Americans blame Obama for this

  16. Card 16 of 16

    Iraq's Sunnis will probably suffer the most

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