Work and World

Iraq Explained — ISIS, Syria And War

Oh dear… Just when you thought the Iraq
problem was solved because you haven’t heard about it
for a while, everything’s back to murderous
chaos and terror. What happened? In 2003, the US invaded Iraq because of
its alleged connections to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. At the time, Saddam Hussein, a brutal
dictator, ruled the country. He was part of the Sunni minority and suppressed the Shia majority. Iraq was conquered fairly quickly, but the US had no plan for the country. The until-then suppressed Shia majority
took over and began oppressing the Sunnis, because suppressing other faiths has
proven to be such a good idea. Unsurprisingly, a Sunni rebel
uprising began and terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda,
trickled into Iraq and local forces, often former Sunni
military, began fighting the US troops and the newly
formed Iraqi state, peaking in a bloody civil war in 2006. Since then, people in Iraq have basically
been segregated by religion. So, in a tragic irony of history, the US
invasion led to the formation of the very terrorists the US wanted to
eliminate in the first place, because Iraq was now the perfect training
ground for terrorism. To understand this complicated conflict
better, we need to understand the relationship between the two main
branches of the Muslim faith: Shia and Sunni Islam. Sunnis make up about 80% of the Muslim
world and Shia about 20%. And the hard-liners on both sides don’t
like each other very much. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two most
powerful players in the game of faiths. They both have no separation of state and
religion, domestic problems, and a lot of oil money. And they support groups that fight the
other religious orientation. And one of those terror organizations
supported by Saudi Arabia was the Islamic State in Iraq,
or ISI for short. In 2010, the Arab Spring happened and changed the whole situation
in the Middle East. In Syria, dictator Bashar al-Assad didn’t
think much of resigning and started a gruesome civil war
against his own people. The longer the war went on, the more
foreign groups joined the fight, most of them for religious reasons, and with the goal of building an
Islamic state in the region. And one of them was the infamous ISI,
which now became the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,
or ISIS. They had fought in Iraq for years, and had thousands of well-trained and
fanatic soldiers. They already quasi-controlled parts of
northern Iraq and were very determined to build
their religious state. And they changed the game in Syria like
no-one expected. ISIS was so unbelievably violent and
radical that soon it was a war with almost every other faction of
the Syrian rebel armies. They attacked and killed member of other
Muslim terrorist groups. In the territories they controlled, they
built an Islamic state with rules so strict that even the
hard-liners of al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia were shocked and withdrew their support. ISIS has been accused of responsibility
for multiple massacres against civilians, countless suicide bombings, the
hostage-taking of women and children, the execution of their prisoners, and
beheadings. All kinds of medieval hororrs we would
rather not have to illustrate. And this lovely gathering of human beings
recently decided it was time to take more territory in Iraq. Since the US left Iraq, the Shia prime
minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has monopolized power and discriminated
against Sunnis wherever possible. The government of Iraq is widely regarded
as being corrupt, incapable, and it’s cetainly hated by a large part
of its citizens. The Iraqi army, consisting of about
300,000 soldiers, was created using 25 billion US dollars in
tax money, but it’s not loyal to its government and has been withdrawing or completely
disbanding, giving up city after city. Because ISIS has announced that everyone
who opposes them will be killed, they have proven they mean business. By June 2014, they’d conquered a big
chunk of Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest
city. They’d stolen hundreds of millions from
captured banks, making them the richest terror
organization on Earth. And they are constantly working on
establishing a super-medieval religious state. Iran and the US are even considering
working together to fight them. That’s how gruesome the situation is. Events in Iraq show again that exploiting
the people you’ve defeated in a war, denying them power, a living, and a stake
in the rebuilding of the country is just sowing the seeds of the next bout
of violence. Somehow, we have to break this circle. Subtitles by the community
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