How USA politics in Iraq has lead to ISIS rise is a question that has been on a lot of people’s minds lately. Some believe that the political situation in Iraq is to blame, while others think that it is because of the way that the United States has been handling the situation.
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The 2003 Invasion of Iraq
It has been said that the 2003 Invasion of Iraq was the main catalyst for the rise of ISIS. This is because the invasion led to the destabilization of the region, which allowed for extremist groups to gain a foothold.
The Bush Administration’s Justification
In the weeks and months after the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush and his administration began to publicly articulate their views on what should be done in response to the terrorist attacks. In Bush’s first public comments on the matter, made on September 16, he announced a “war on terror”, stating that “[t]he war on terrorism begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” Initially, there appeared to be significant international support for this position.
On November 21, 2001, Bush delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he stated:
The United Nations can play a vital role in the war against terrorism. The Security Council resolutions passed last month send a clear message: The world is united against terrorism. All nations have a role to play, and all nations must do their part. … We must work together to deny terrorists the funding they need to plan and carry out attacks. Many terrorist groups raise money through criminal activities. And drug trafficking helps finance their operations. Worldwide cooperation is essential to stopping terrorists from getting cash they need to buy weapons and plan attacks.
The Aftermath of the Invasion
The 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the United States toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein but resulted in years of violence and instability, helping to fuel the rise of the Islamic State group.
Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks that prompted the U.S.-led offensive, al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate has been largely defeated. But its successor, ISIS, emerged as an even more brutal extremist organization that ultimately took control of nearly a third of Iraq before being ousted in a costly military campaign by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition.
The invasion also left more than 4,500 U.S. soldiers dead and more than 32,000 wounded. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed, wounded or driven from their homes, deepening sectarian tensions that ISIS exploited to rally support.
The Rise of ISIS
It’s no secret that the Iraq War was a disaster. Not only did it cost the United States trillions of dollars, but it also led to the rise of ISIS. The Iraq War created a power vacuum that allowed ISIS to take control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. If the United States had not invaded Iraq, ISIS would not exist today.
The Power Vacuum in Iraq
After the US-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq spiraled into years of sectarian violence and insurgency. The power vacuum that was left in the wake of Hussein’s overthrow created the perfect conditions for extremist groups like al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to take root. In 2006, AQI changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
ISI slowly gained strength over the next few years, taking advantage of the instability caused by the US military presence and the Iraqi government’s own failings. By 2013, ISI had regained control of Fallujah and other areas in western Iraq that it had lost during the Sunni insurgency against US troops. In 2014, ISI made a dramatic push into northern and eastern Syria, taking control of large swaths of territory. It was during this expansion that ISI changed its name to the Islamic State (IS) and declared itself a caliphate.
The rise of IS is a direct result of US policy in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. The power vacuum left by Saddam Hussein’s topple was filled by sectarian violence and extremist groups like IS. If not for US intervention, Iraq may have been able to stabilize itself and prevent groups like IS from gaining a foothold.
The Sunni-Shia Conflict
The Sunni-Shia conflict is a religious one dating back to the seventh century. The dispute arose from a question over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. His followers chose his cousin and son-in-law Ali, but others favored Muhammad’s close friend Abu Bakr. This division created the Sunni and Shia sects, which have differed in beliefs ever since.
The Sunni form the majority of Muslims worldwide, while Shia make up a plurality in Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. In Syria, most Muslims are Sunni, but the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, belongs to the Shiite-affiliated Alawite minority.
The conflict between Sunni and Shia has played out in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime. Shia make up a majority of Iraq’s population, but Sunnis held disproportionate power under Saddam. The U.S. decision to disband Saddam’s army after the invasion led to further Sunni disenfranchisement, and many former soldiers joined the insurgency against the U.S.-backed government.
The Shiite-led Iraqi government has been accused of carrying out mass arrests and executions of Sunnis, as well as other human rights abuses. In response, Sunni militant groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its successor organization, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have waged a bloody insurgency against Iraqi security forces and civilians – both Shia and Sunni – that has killed tens of thousands of people over the past decade.
The civil war in Syria has further fueled sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shia inside Iraq. ISIS emerged from AQI during the Syrian conflict and took advantage of the chaos to gain territory in both countries. The group has been accused of carrying out atrocities against all Iraqis – Shia, Sunni, Kurds and Christians – but it has focused its brutality particularly on Shia Muslims, whom it considers heretics deserving of death
The Impact of ISIS
In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq with the intention of removing Saddam Hussein from power and establishing a democracy in Iraq. However, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq led to many unintended consequences, one of which was the rise of ISIS. In this essay, I will explore how the politics of the United States in Iraq has lead to the rise of ISIS.
The Humanitarian Crisis
The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, has led to one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. An estimated 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, and more than 6 million are displaced within Syria. Meanwhile, 4 million refugees have poured into neighboring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The majority of Syrian refugees are women and children.
The conflict has also had a devastating effect on Syria’s infrastructure and economy. More than half of all hospitals in Syria have been destroyed or badly damaged, and over 3 million people have no access to clean water. The economy has shrunk by more than 35%, and unemployment is estimated to be above 50%.
The Regional Stability
The 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies led to widespread instability and sectarian violence throughout the country. The resulting power vacuum allowed for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a Sunni militant group that had been active in the country since 2004. In 2013, ISIS began to expand its territory into neighboring Syria, where it took advantage of the ongoing civil war to gain a foothold in the eastern part of the country.
In 2014, ISIS launched a major offensive in Iraq, seized control of large swaths of territory in both countries, and declared itself to be a caliphate. The group has since been engaged in a military conflict with multiple parties, including the United States, which has conducted airstrikes against ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria.
Despite its territorial losses in recent years, ISIS continues to pose a threat to regional stability and international security. The group has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in various countries, including France, Belgium, Turkey, Iran, and Egypt. In addition, ISIS has inspired lone wolf attacks in several Western countries, such as the United States and Canada.