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Iraq crisis can deepen further

The fast advancement made by the Al-Qaeda inspired rebel group - Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - is creating a chaotic situation for the whole region and the world. They are advancing terribly fast while capturing major cities of Iraq, a country which is already in a shattered state. The ISIS, driven by Sunni sentiments and Islamic ideology, aims at setting up a new state stretching across the Syria-Iraq border. The ISIS has already caught the imagination across the Sunni world, especially among young Sunni men in bordering countries. But the bigger impact of such act will be seen in coming days.


The current crisis in Iraq is the result of a bigger Shia-Sunni rivalry and conflict in West Asian region, which has always affected the world order.

Before the commencement of Arab Spring, it was Sunni-Shia sectarian rivalry that preoccupied most political analysts of the Middle East.

Indeed, Arab Spring brought about some changes but now it is a new situation where Sunnis are feeling the threat of growing Shia dominance in the region.

Thus, the growing tensions and occasional clashes between the two main strands of Islam have been major concerns. In fact, the Syria situation has emerged into a new battleground outside Syria.

With secret back up and deep pockets, ISIS militants have seized control of every major border crossing from Syria into Iraq-as well as four critical towns in Iraq’s western province.

The group now controls large areas of both countries, and there are concerns that the Iraqi government could collapse if this trend continues.

The manner in which ISIS is operating is nothing short of a trained military. Having advanced weapons, armored vehicles and with planned strategy, they are able to capture maximum cities within a short span of 10 days, which itself is an indication of the focused motive of this group.

Now with ISIS militants-predominantly supporter of Sunni- are creating havoc in Iraq, after devastating Syria.

Initially, the group relied on donations from wealthy individuals in Gulf Arab states, particularly Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who supported its fight against President Bashar al-Assad.

But now the group has been operating independently of other jihadist groups in Syria such as the al-Nusra Front, the official Al Qaeda affiliate in the country, and has had a tense relationship with other rebels.

After Arab Spring, the growing influence of Iran, a Shia state, was a major concern for Gulf Countries, especially to Saudi Arabia.

To counter Iran’s influence and closer ties between Iran and Syria, Gulf countries started funding few rebel groups and now with their guidance ISIS is capitalizing on growing tension between Iraq’s Sunni minority and Shia-led government.

While the instability in Iraq has connections to the Syrian conflict next door, and many individuals who fought for Isis in Syria are now present in Iraq, the Iraqi insurgency is more acutely focused on solving the problems of Iraq’s fractured polity than it is the goals of more radical Islamic groups, as the Iraqi people are not very content with the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Insurgents and few Sunni tribal sects of Iraq believe that Maliki has got into some secret agreement with Shias to remain in power, which is not acceptable by the people of the country.

The people of Iraq, who are now even supporting the ISIS militants, are expecting a political reform.

The stunning speed with which a few thousand lightly armed ISIS fighters have seized control of large portions of the country in the past two weeks has raised fears that the entire state of Iraq could soon collapse.

The rapid advance from ISIS does have certain regional implications. The neighboring countries of Iraq- Syria, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia-may face the heat of this revolution.

However, ISIS advancement towards Saudi Arabia is less likely as it is one of the biggest donors for this group. There were reports that ISIS has already taken few Turkish as hostage.

As Saudi and other Gulf countries have sponsored the ISIS group in the past, the threat looms on them as well.

But as it is well known that how these countries have so far played such games of sponsoring regional terrorism, it will be no surprise if after conquering Iraq, the ISIS moves on to its next targets like Lebanon, Israel or other countries.

The current Iraq crisis is also posing a serious challenge for United States as to how to formulate a suitable foreign policy for the region where it is fast losing its influence.

Further there are possibilities that few Pakistani militants are also involved in either training ISIS rebels, upon the request from Saudi, or directly fighting among the group as rebels.

There is no denial that Pakistan has taken a keen interest in Shia-Sunni conflict affecting the whole Middle East. Therefore, India also needs to keep a vigil along its Western borders and should carefully observe how the situation is unfolding in Iraq.

For ISIS, which is fast gaining all the publicity and support from various groups and countries, it will be difficult to stop them once they have tasted the power.

And for Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, ISIS has become like a genie, either you give them next country to fight or you become their target.