HTS 2041: The Modern Middle East

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Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham(Syria)

By Nazar Rassam


The media have kept us informed about the horrific killing of Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, the Royal Jordanian air force pilot who was burned alive while trapped in a cage by ISIL (the islamic state of Iraq and Levant) in January 2015. Al-Kaseasbeh F16 flightier aircraft was crashed near Al-Raqqa, Syria during the military intervention against ISIL, in December 2014. ISIL did ask to negotiate for the exchange of Sajida Mubarak Al-Rishawi, an ISIL captured member in Amman, Jordan.

Since the incidence of Al-Kaseasbeh, King Abdullah II of Jordan have started revenge actions for the blood of Al-Kaseasbeh. Once ISIL released a video of the murder on social media on February 3rd 2015. The king stated that all ISIL captured personal under his custody are to be killed. And sure enough both Sajida Mubarak  al-Rishawi and Ziad Khalaf al-Karbouly whom both have been kept captured since 2005 for the Amman hotel bombing, were executed by hanging. Jordanian warplanes also bombed ISIL positions in Mosul, Iraq and Ar-Raqqah, Syria.


ISIL is a Muslim jihadist rebel group which was established in 1999 as Al-Qaida in Iraq, spreading terror and entering Sunni majority cities to recruits fighters. In February 2014 Al-Qaida decided to cut all ties with ISIL because of it failure to consult. ISIL by then have spread in Syria, Iraq and many other countries in the area. They held ground attacks and drove the government forces away from these areas. ISISL’s strategy for recruiting involves not only brain washing men and women but also children of all ages and backgrounds. Their strategy is to affect future generations and leave their blue print.

Yes, the inhuman and horrific killing of Al-Kasaebeh is unacceptable and is indeed worthy of the world’s attention. At the same time though, through all these years ISIL have achieved cleansing of whole ethnic groups, forcing people of certain religions out of their homes and cities, group raping, burying groups of people alive, sex trafficking, and beheading of people. They established certain rules to be lived by or otherwise death is the other option. This list is a simplified and small fraction of the big scale destruction happening from this group. These incidents are worthy of the media’s and world’s attention.

Eventually and recently many countries have joined the efforts in fighting ISIL. The extent and the size of the fight is difficult to measure since the actual size of ISIL is not quantified and increasing by the day and thus measuring how bad the situation is somewhat questionable.

It is very puzzling how a small group of people that even excited during the time of Saddam grew so incredibly and out of control. Was the world watching during that time? If the media at the time have made a bigger deal about the topic , then the public’s outrageous anger would have acted as a catalyst forcing the authorities and government to act upon the issue. Is it too late?

Being from Iraq and the middle east this topic is very dear to my heart.

Yes those ISIL people claim to represent Muslims and fighting for Islam, but the Muslims grew up with reflect nothing of ISIL’s philosophy and are disgusted by those creatures.

Mosul, the city I come from, once was the capital of the so called Mesopotamia, that same Mesopotamia that civilization started and nourished on the banks of its beloved Tigris and Euphrates. Mosul has its own share of Biblical references and its ground is nourished with churches, cathedrals, mosques and temples so ancient that a date can not be labeled. In July of 2014 those same cathedrals were being bombed and whipped out of sight. Christians were being forced to either, flee their own homes within few hours notice or face death by the sward. What was the government, the rest of the world and UN doing?

At that time I wondered what if the Mona Lisa painting was damaged or an ethnic group was threatened. What would the reaction be? It did not seem normal.

Last summer over night ISIS reached a city in Iraq and they started digging the ground… People of the city were puzzled until ISIL started pushing people into the holes and burring them alive.

ISIL is to a great extend a product of the war. And needs to be cleaned up.




  1. khospedales3 says:

    It seems a lot of the action taken against ISIS has been very reactionary. Some major violent act happened within our borders or to one of our officials, now we must step up and take some kind of action in retaliation. I believe the rest of the countries in the Middle East need to realize that if an immediate plan of action isn’t developed, ISIS will simply keep growing, recruiting citizens of more and more states until it has a foothold in the majority of Middle Eastern nations.

    I can imagine the frustration of seeing such turmoil unfold in a place you would consider home. Watching through the pinhole of Western media coverage must be even more frustrating.

  2. nsumi3 says:

    I found your mention of their brainwashing children interesting. To me, it speaks directly to the deeper cultural battle that ISIS seems to be waging against the wider region. ISIS, from my perspective, seems to a unique threat to the Middle East: their violence is wider reaching, more threatening, and more publicly extreme than many of the previous terrorist groups. Maybe the exposure to such extreme extremism will ignite a general movement away from such organizations making it more difficult for future groups to recruit (the opposite of ISIS’s brainwashing goal), similar to the reaction we’ve seen from Jordan.

  3. trevormcelhenny says:

    “ISIL is to a great extend a product of the war. And needs to be cleaned up.”

    I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Through these terrible acts you mention (group raping, burying people alive, beheadings, etc.) they have demonstrated that they have very little regard for human rights. They are criminals, plain and simple.

    It must be very hard knowing that all this is going on in your home country. I can’t imagine how angry/frustrated/sad it would make me.

  4. ssweeny3 says:

    I think it is very interesting that the media has not made a big deal about the clear and obvious genocide that occurs in Syria and Iraq due to ISIS. The two cultures that are being removed from ISIS held territories are Sunni’s and Christians. I cannot help but to think that they do not comment on this or make it a big deal is because Christians are involved. Because Christianity is not obviously not a popular thing to talk about in the news, except for misinterpreting the Pope and bringing up anything bad against Christianity. However, I do not believe that they realize that these Christians are from the Middle East. They are not Caucasian Christians, they are ethnically Middle Eastern and their ancestors were more than likely at some point Muslim. It is still very interesting why the media has not brought this up because it is genocide. I thank you for bringing up the point of ISIS killing Christians and destroying Christian churches and cathedrals.

  5. austinsoper says:

    I can only imagine that it’s frustrating for the servicemen who lost friends and fought in the middle east to achieve some stability, only to have it completely overturned in mere months by this group, and have the administration sit on its hands and do nothing about it. The king of Jordan himself climbed aboard an F-16 and flew missions against ISIL/ISIS in retaliation for the execution of the Jordanian pilot.

    • zhu64 says:

      I don’t think there is anything else the administration can do short of sending in ground troops. However, I believe it will become something similar to Iraq because you will need to help rebuild the country otherwise it won’t be long before another group takes ISIS’s place. The king of Jordan flying missions against isis is relatively symbolic. They have not done anything US haven’t done. In fact US have flew much more air strikes against ISIS than Jordan.

  6. mdsmith910 says:

    I like the reference you make to the Mona Lisa. If something were to happen that first-handedly provoked other countries, they might have a greater sense of urgency in reacting. This blog proved to be very insightful, and shocking to know the horrid things that are happening. Its hard to wrap my mind about the actuality of these heartless and torturous acts.

  7. jkempa3 says:

    I enjoyed the information in this and the related piece. I would like to see the media, across the globe, cover all of the atrocities being committed the ISIS/ISIL group. Educating the world on the problem and the risks associated with not addressing the problem may help elicit a unified push to end this terrorism. As Jordan found out the hard way, this threat will not go away on its own or leave you alone if you try to take minimal to no action against them. This is radical extremist group determined to achieve its ends regardless of who it encounters. They have shown that they are a ‘join us or die’ mentality and for all people, governments, religions, and creeds across the globe that are not a part of ISIS/ISIL are a target for the group. The media should cover the atrocities and the world as a whole needs to respond. The attacks that have occurred should not be viewed as the other guy’s problem but as OUR problem.

  8. mlucchi says:

    I agree that the rise of ISIL is because of war and tension in the region. It rose to power so quickly because there is a vacuum for power or leadership to some extent. I think what sets ISIL apart from other Jihadist groups is that it doesn’t want to just commit terrorist acts, but also wants people to join it. They have a goal of expanding and taking over more of the middle east and I suppose the rest of the world. I think at some point they will become a bother to enough of the world that more countries will start stepping in to fight back or help arm the Kurds.

  9. lmoghimi3 says:

    As someone who is also from the Middle East I understand how helpless you can feel when things like this are going on and how worried you are for the people you know that are still there. What is even worse is the way people perceive these kinds of acts. They assume that since terror acts are going on in a country then everyone in that country is a terrorist when really the majority are the victims.

  10. jyount6 says:

    I agree that action needs to be taken as well, before more bad things happen. Sadly, if you read any account of a US soldier’s time in war, it will typically tell you a story of how people high up in the chain of command basically cripple the soldiers. They take away the soldier’s ability to fight effectively by trying to be safe while accomplishing the goal of winning the war. You can’t have both, and I think for effective military action the generals in command need to let the soldiers do what they have been trained to do. Trying to keep soldiers safe while doing their job is one thing, but preventing them from fighting effectively is another completely. This can even lead to more soldier casualties. It os time we learn from our mistakes in war and end this threat now, not 10 years down the road.

  11. apabst3 says:

    I understand that the U.S. has enough on it’s hands and has been involved in the Middle East for over a decade, but I do wonder when or how we will take it upon ourselves to take down ISIS. I think we should tread with caution though and learn from our mistakes of the past, but I do think we need to punish the criminals of ISIS who are truly evil. Again I don’t think it should be a mission for democracy like the US went after in Iraq because that has not turned out well for us. But I do think we could help in the cause of slowing the momentum of ISIS.

  12. owest3 says:

    Great post! This is a very informative post that gives light to another side of the war against ISIS/ISIL. It is very true that the media does not give justice to all that ISIS has done over the past decade, and it is also true they tend to steer clear of what countries like Jordan and Syria are doing to ISIS members in retaliation. If the world knew exactly of all the things that were going on in the Middle East I am sure this war would have been “cleaned up” many years ago. I think the United States and the UN can do a lot more to help the Middle East and I am interested to see how our country is gong to step into this war in the future.

  13. jenglish7 says:

    ISIL presents a very real and direct threat to the stability of the region of the middle east, and yet it seems as if it is just another link in a long chain of direct threats to the region. And with it, almost out of tradition by this point, come the calls for US involvement and military intervention. By now it would almost be a surprise if the US *refused* to get involved. Yet I feel that extreme caution is needed to prevent past mistakes from cropping up again. All of our responses have been reactionary, not proactive. I feel we need a departure from our standard M.O. of just sending in military.

  14. wcarter31 says:

    It is very interesting to get a perspective on this topic from someone who has first-hand accounts of this area. Regarding the media and their coverage: unfortunately, as the famous saying goes, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” This seems to hold true here, especially in the case of American hostages being executed, which is magnified by the fact that they’re from our homeland.

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