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Political Hotspot: ISIS The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an organized militant group that now controls parts of Syria and Iraq. Currently, they are attempting to recruit new members and expand their territory. They also manage many sources of oil which serves as their primary source of income, earning as much as 3 million dollars a day. They aim to create a worldwide caliphate, which historically is an empire controlled by a Muslim leader thought of as a successor to Muhammad the prophet. ISIS directs as well as influences many of the worlds terror acts today. This is one of their techniques used to scare off inhabitants of the land as well as people around them. This militant group is frowned upon by nearly every other country in the world due to its violent nature. The United States, one of the prominent opposers to this violent militant group, has led a coalition of over 60 countries against ISIS (Boghani 2016). They aim to crack down on ISIS’ flow of funds and foreign fighters which will ultimately lead them to succeed in defeating the group. They do this by targeting ISIS mainly with airstrikes. The United States has struck ISIS “5,473 times by October of 2015” in an attempt to stop their territorial gain (Lister 2015). The coalition of countries hopes to minimize ISIS and their effect on the world. This conflict is a combination of a territorial and religious dispute. ISIS is looking to create a worldwide caliphate, which historically is purely a Muslim empire ruled by a caliph. ISIS wants a strictly Sunni Muslim country with no toleration for any other religion, while Syria wants a state with more religious freedom. ISIS is taking advantage of Syria’s instability as a country while they are in a civil war. They are doing this by conquering land when Syria is vulnerable, and its defense forces are preoccupied with other matters. This conflict is primarily occurring in Syria and on its border with Iraq. This territory is essential as it is in the middle-east, an area that is already swarming in political tension. ISIS has gained such a substantial amount of land in the past few years due to Syria’s civil war preventing it from fighting back ISIS’ military forces. The cause of this disagreement is the civil war that originated in Syria which made it more susceptible to being taken over by external rebellious groups. ISIS wants a caliphate while Assad intends to rule in Syria without interruptions. The groups do not often fight though as each of their goals does not directly correlate to one another. This conflict started when Syria’s civil war sparked in March of 2011 at an Arab Spring Protest (Beauchamp 2017). Rebelling groups against Syria were joined by a franchise from al Qaeda called  Jabhat al Nusra. ISIS formed as a group that branched from this franchise due to unknown internal issues. ISIS mainly fights the Kurds and rebels to conquer land and promote their Jihadist way of life. As mentioned previously, Syria’s first signs of tension started in March 2011 during waves of Arab Spring protests against dictators in the Middle East (Beauchamp 2017).  Assad, the Syrian president, tried stopping the protests with force. The protesters started shooting back around July of the same year. Later this year this small uprising becomes a civil war, with Syrian troops straying the military to join the rebels.  Many extremists groups from all over the world come and help the rebels in the battle against Assad. Assad encourages this because this way it is harder for foreign countries to side with the rebels. Soon after, Kurdish groups in northern Syria find this an appropriate time to join the war to fight for their long-sought autonomy. Al Qaeda soon establishes a branch in Syria to aid the rebels in the fight against Assad. After all these groups start intervening ISIS rises. ISIS is an al Qaeda affiliate that deviated from the group due to internal agreements. ISIS mostly fights other rebel groups and Kurds rather than the Assad regime., to establish their long awaited for a caliphate. This conflict has had a very sizeable impact on the region and people of the area. The UN estimates that there have been over 400,000 Syrians killed in attacks in total since 2011 due to the war (CNN 2017). Syria’s cities have been thoroughly trashed and demolished due to airstrikes and gas attacks from its government. Many cities have been completely abandoned and turned into military checkpoints. 5.1 million Syrians have left the country in seek of refuge in other countries. This is a global scale conflict. ISIS is conducting attacks globally. Two notable attacks include the 2016 Brussels Bombings and the 2013 Paris Attacks which affected about 1000 people in total. This is a large scale conflict because ISIS’ acts influenced many other acts of terror globally. They also terrorize the people locally by killing and taking hostages. In November of 2012 James Foley, an American reporter, was taken hostage by ISIS and he was killed by decapitation in Raqqa, Syria by ISIS. This disagreement continues because Syria isn’t politically stable yet and the war is not yet over. This is because of the lack of any outside forces seriously committing their military forces to this civil war. Many people agree that ISIS’ way of handling the problem is incorrect, but they say the same about Assad’s way of dealing with this problem. People often see Assad as the ‘lesser of two devil’s’ which seems like an incorrect way to view things as we want an end goal of peace. By late 2012 Iran was consistently sending cargo flights to assist the Assad regime in defeating the rebellious groups. At roughly the same time the oil-rich countries in the middle east send military supplies to the rebels to counter Iran. In April of 2013, the Obama administration signed a secret order that authorized the CIA to train Syrian rebels. The US hosted other campaigns to train Syrian rebels, but the rebels have to agree to fight against ISIS, so these campaigns slowly fizzle over time. The UN is working on bringing the two parties to negotiation by holding multiple intra-Syrian talks throughout the year. Bibliography Beauchamp, Zack. “The war in Syria, explained.” Vox (USA), April 8, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018., Priyanka. “Who’s Who in the Fight Against ISIS?” PBS Frontline, 10 11, 2016. Accessed January 17, 2017., Ian. “These 5 Facts Explain Bashar Assad’s Hold in Syria.” Time Magazine, September 22, 2015. Accessed January 28, 2018., Richard Allen, and Nick Thompson. “ISIS: Everything you need to know.” CNN, August 11, 2016. Accessed January 18, 2018., Tim. “What does ISIS really want?” CNN, December 11, 2015. Accessed January 20, 2018.”The rise of ISIS, explained in 6 minutes.” Video file, 06:18. Vox. Posted by Vox, December 16, 2015. Accessed January 20, 2018., Vivian, and Courtney Kube. “ISIS still has up to 10,000 loyalists in Syria and Iraq, warn experts.” NBC News, January 20, 2018. Accessed January 20, 2018., Karen, Derek Watkins, Tom Giratikanon, and Jasmine C. Lee. “How Many People Have Been Killed in ISIS Attacks Around the World.” New York Times (New York, NY/USA), July 16, 2016. Accessed January 27, 2018.

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