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View Diary: Northern Iraq: Some notes (44 comments)

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  •  Several reasons (6+ / 0-)

    1. They have money.

    There is quite a bit of evidence, though naturally no confirmation, that the group of fighters that evolved into ISIS was funded by Saudi elements, who backed them in Syria as an "anyone but Bashar al-Assad" option. They've also been smart about keeping themselves funded, including the well-publicized sacking of a bank earlier this year.

    2. They have weapons

    In part, that's because of #1. But they also capitalized on the conflict in Syria to arm up. There's no solid inventory of the weapons they possess, but with Syria sporting arms supplied to various resistance groups, arms stolen from Assad's government, and arms smuggled in from the rest of the Middle East, it was pretty much an all-you-can-carry bazaar for ISIS.

    3. They have know-how

    Individually, most ISIS fighters, especially in the east, are probably disadvantaged villagers and aspiring zealots. Raiders are not a new phenomenon in the region, historically speaking. But organizationally, ISIS has access to credible military tactics and strategy. The purge of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq left quite a few high ranking military men suddenly and starkly unemployed. At our behest, the main brass was prosecuted by the Iraqis for crimes committed in the Saddam era, but a huge second echelon of people with military experience and tactical know-how more or less just faded into the background. It's virtually certain that some of them are now helping make decisions for ISIS. And that's in addition to battle-hardened veterans of the Syrian Civil War.

    4. They -- sometimes -- have popular support

    Now, in areas like Mosul, that's increasingly not the case, but especially early on, and in areas like Tikrit, ISIS has actually received some popular support. Despite the severity of their policies, they are ... well, they're not Nouri al-Maliki. For a litany of reasons, people, really, really hate Nouri al-Maliki. Sure, there's a solid share of buyer's remorse in some areas, but unlike traditional raiders, ISIS does manage to get legitimate support from local populations.

    •  Regarding '2. They have weapons' (8+ / 0-)

      Until two months ago ISIS(IS) was the biggest buyer by far in the huge weapons bazaars in Iraqi Kurdistan where anyone with money can buy anything they want no questions asked.

      They bought huge amounts of weapons for a long time.

      It seems no one ever asked 'Hey, is this a good idea?'

      The world is bad enough as it is, you have no right to make it any worse.
      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 09:51:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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