How Isis came to be

Three years ago, the Islamic State (Isis) did not exist; now it controls vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Showing off its handiwork daily via Twitter and YouTube, Isis has repeatedly demonstrated that it is much more than a transnational terrorist organisation – rather, it is an entity with sophisticated command, control, propaganda and logistical capabilities, and one that has proven its ability to take and hold strategically critical territory at the heart of the Middle East.

But as world leaders grapple with how to respond to this unprecedented crisis, they must first understand how Isis came to exist.

Principally, Isis is the product of a genocide that continued unabated as the world stood back and watched.

It is the illegitimate child born of pure hate and pure fear – the result of 200,000 murdered Syrians and of millions more displaced and divorced from their hopes and dreams.

Isis’s rise is also a reminder of how Bashar al-Assad’s Machiavellian embrace of al-Qaida would come back to haunt him.

Facing Assad’s army and intelligence services, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Shia Islamist militias and their grand patron, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Syria’s initially peaceful protesters quickly became disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised – and then radicalised and violently militant.

The Shia Islamist axis used chemical weapons, artillery and barrel bombs to preserve its crescent of influence.

Syria’s Sunni Arab revolutionaries in turn sought international assistance, and when the world refused, they embraced a pact with the devil, al-Qaida.

With its fiercely loyal army of transnational jihadis, al-Qaida once again gained a foothold in the heart of the Middle East.

Fuelled by the hate and fear engendered by images of dismembered children or women suffering from the effects of chemical weapons, disaffected youth from around the world rushed to Syria, fuelling an ever more violent race to the bottom. Continue reading


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