By Shian Omar | Features Editor
The most world-threatening radical group in the Middle East is advancing, and both Middle Eastern and Western efforts haven’t been able to stop them.
ISIL, commonly known as ISIS, is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group trying to establish a Muslim caliphate in the Middle East similar to what the Abbasid and Umayyad Empires were able to accomplish more than a thousand years ago.
According to the United Nations, ISIL has killed about 12,000 people in Iraq and injured another 22,000 since the start of 2014. These numbers only represent Iraq, but ISIL also has had significant territorial gains in Syria.
The group has been coming for a long time. When U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, the country was not yet stable.
The Shias took over the central government, and former Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri Al-Maliki, progressed toward a sectarian government with majority Shias and infuriated the Sunnis because of his constant refusal to accommodate them.
Their reaction to this was violence.
ISIL’s largest gain occurred in June when 30,000 Iraqi troops abandoned their positions in the city of Mosul as 800 rebels came in and provided such a beneficial situation for ISIL that they themselves must have been in disbelief. They took over the city, released prisoners, gained control of the American weapons given to Iraq and stole $425 million from the bank.
They were a very small group then, but the takeover was easy because the majority of Mosul also appeared to be against the central government’s actions and approved of the rebels’ desires.
ISIL uses religion to their advantage. They started out as a very small radical group but have since grown to the current estimates of between 20,000 and 50,000 people.
Another change is that they have directed their attacks toward Kurds, a minority group. Interestingly enough, many Kurds are Sunnis as well, but they are considered infidels because of the differing ethnicity.
There are several students at Pearce who have family members affected by the actions of ISIL.
Many people have heard about these atrocities on the other side of the world, but for some, it’s much more personal. There are several Pearce students who have relatives in the midst of all the violence in Northern Iraq, and some are members of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIL. This is the same force that was on America’s side when troops were deployed there and the region where no U.S. troops were lost.
Although there have been airstrikes from America and aid from European countries, the Kurds are the only people fighting this group with boots on the ground.
They are constantly on guard to protect the people in their land, especially since they have not been receiving any help from Iraq.
It appears that the sound solution at this point is the division of the country into three parts, one for Sunnis, one for Shias and one for Kurds.