17 things about ISIS and Iraq you need to know

19 Cards

CURATED BY Zack Beauchamp

2014-10-09 12:57:39 -0400

  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

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    An Iraqi soldier during a fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq in January 2014. Ali al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) used to have a different name: al Qaeda in Iraq.

    US troops and allied Sunni militias defeated al Qaeda in Iraq during the post-2006 "surge" — but it didn't destroy them. The US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, described the group in 2010 as down but "fundamentally the same." In 2011, the group rebooted. ISIS successfully freed a number of prisoners held by the Iraqi government and, slowly but surely, began rebuilding their strength.

    ISIS and al-Qaeda divorced in February 2014. "Over the years, there have been many signs that the relationship between al Qaeda Central (AQC) and the group's strongest, most unruly franchise was strained," Barack Mendelsohn, a political scientist at Haverford College, writes. Their relationship "had always been more a matter of mutual interests than of shared ideology."

    According to Mendelsohn, Syria pushed that relationship to the breaking point. ISIS claimed that it controlled Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda splinter in Syria, and defied orders from al-Qaeda's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to back off. "This was the first time a leader of an al-Qaeda franchise had publicly disobeyed" a movement leader, he says. ISIS also defied repeated orders to kill fewer civilians in Syria, and the tensions led to al-Qaeda disavowing any connection with ISIS in a February communiqué.

    Today, ISIS and al-Qaeda compete for influence over Islamist extremist groups around the world. Some experts believe ISIS may overtake al-Qaeda as the most influential group in this area globally.

  2. Card 2 of 19

    ISIS wants to establish a caliphate

  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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