ISIS – What, Why, Where and How


  • The name ISIS has been doing rounds since the conflict in Iraq started to come in limelight during June 2014.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, often translated as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and accordingly also commonly known as ISIS, is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows an Islamic fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.
  • The group has referred to itself as the Islamic State or IS ever since it proclaimed a worldwide caliphate in June 2014 and named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph. As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.
  • The group’s adoption of the name “Islamic State” and idea of a caliphate have been widely criticised, with the United Nations, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting its statehood or caliphhood.
  • ISIS carried out large scale offensives in Iraq during June 2014 and took control of important cities like Tikrit, Nineveh Province and prominent portions of Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq after capital Baghdad. It already had established its stronghold in important Iraqi city of Fallujah earlier.

What ISIS stands for?

  • In English language ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This nomenclature is being used for this jihadi militant group which has laid its claims to the territory of Iraq and Syria.
  • However, since the ISIS has also been claiming over more of the Levant region including countries like Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus and parts of Southern Turkey, it has also been called the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
  • It is worth noting that Levant represents geographic and cultural region consisting of the eastern Mediterranean littoral “between Anatolia and Egypt” and includes countries like of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey.

Comparison with Al Qaida

  • In comparison to al Qaeda it is much more conventional fighting force which captures whole cities with brutal forces.
  • Though technically both the groups have the same goal: Establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, governed by Sharia.

Who is leading ISIS and who are its soldiers?

  • ISIS is led by Bakr al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi militant with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. After taking the reins in 2010, al-Baghdadi successfully transformed what had been an umbrella organization focused mainly on Iraq into a transnational military force.
  • ISIS is also backed by thousands of Sunni Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq, many of them Westerners, and it appears to be surpassing al-Qaeda as the world’s most dangerous jihadist group.
  • It also comprises of an Al Qaeda splinter group that has seized a huge chunk of northern Iraq. Many insurgents Islamist groups and predecessor organisations like the Mujahideen Shura Council, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Jaysh al-Fatiheen, etc. are now involved in ISIS.

Why ISIS is biggest danger for international peace?

  • ISIS’ pursuit of an Islamic State that would straddle the two countries of Iraq and Syria has thrown it into bloody conflict with both governments, Kurdish militias and Syrian rebels of all stripes. This has lead to huge conflict in the Middle-East region which can grow even wider.
  • The Islamic State proposed by ISIS is the latest and most powerful incarnation of what began as an Al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
  • American forces spent years and enormous resources to bring the group largely to heel before U.S. troops pulled out of the country in December of 2011.

Impact on Indian Economy

  • India import’s crude oil from gulf countries and one of the major supplier is Iraq. The crisis in Iraq hampers India’s economy.
  • An external event cannot be control by Indian government. Due to inflation, demand decreases and so the supply stops, leading to cost cutting at industry level.

Operation Inherent Resolve

  • Operation Inherent Resolve is U.S. military’s operational name for the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, including both the campaign in Iraq and the campaign in Syria.
  • The US-led campaign against ISIS, has launched over 6,000 airstrikes against ISIS and is killing about 1,000 militants every month, roughly the same number believed to be joining the group, leaving the group’s manpower strength effectively capped at 30,000 to 40,000.
  • ISIS has had to adopt a different strategy since the commencement of aerial attacks on the group in Iraq and Syria, no longer having the freedom of movement it once enjoyed.
  • With Russia entering the foray and reportedly carrying out airstrikes against ISIS targets, the group’s capabilities will be further diminished.

The Impact

  • The west and much of the democratic secular world is threatened by its dramatic rise.
  • The negative impact of ISIS on world politics is clear from brutal stories of murders, extortion and genocide perpetrated by the regime. Regionally, ISIS will disrupt and degrade the economy of several states, and that in turn may lead to further political chaos, which is precisely ISIS’s goal.
  • With most of Iraq now under its control, the ISIS posed a threat to the entire region.
  • It has also made ISIS the most cash rich militant group in the world.
  • Trade between Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan had been growing at a good pace, driven mainly by Turkey, but with the rise of ISIS this is likely to slow down. The conflict has already damaged the oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey, stopping the oil flow.

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