Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

What is going on in Iraq and why?

By
From page A1 | June 13, 2014 |

An al-Qaida breakaway group, apparently backed by other Sunni groups and fighters, has seized a large section of northern Iraq after previously taking much of northeastern Syria with an eye toward establishing an Islamic state straddling the two countries. The situation on the ground is changing rapidly, but some patterns and explanations are now emerging:

Q: WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?

A: The group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is taking advantage of two trends: growing discontent among Iraq’s minority Sunnis toward Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government, which they accuse of discrimination; and the increasingly sectarian dimension of the Syrian civil war, as mostly Sunni rebels fight to oust a regime dominated by members of a Shiite sect. Taking advantage of the breakdown of state authority, militant fighters easily cross the border. The Iraqi territory recently seized by militants is populated overwhelmingly by Sunnis, many of whom, at least for now, may see al-Maliki as more of a threat than the Islamic State. Signs are also emerging that the Islamic State is backed in its current campaign by former military officers and other members of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Q: WILL IRAQ BE A DIVIDED STATE?

A: The recent developments have renewed the possibility, much discussed during the war a decade ago, that Iraq be divided into three separate regions or even nations — the mostly Shiite section, made up of Baghdad and much of the south and east bordering Iran; a Sunni area, comprised of western Iraq and parts of the north; and a Kurdish zone, also in the north and including the cities of Irbil and Kirkuk, which Saddam tried to populate with Arabs.

Q: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE IRAQI SECURITY FORCES? WHY WON’T THEY FIGHT?

A: Corruption and sectarianism are widespread problems in the security forces, with little sense of professionalism or loyalty to the Baghdad government. Sunni soldiers tend to serve in Sunni areas like Mosul and Anbar, where many of them are demoralized by the idea of fighting against members of their own Muslim sect. Police forces are usually drawn from local populations so are particularly vulnerable to local pressures like intimidation. In at least one case, the Islamic militants beheaded an officer and then distributed a video of the attack.

Q: HOW HAVE THE REBELS BEEN ABLE TO MOVE SO QUICKLY?

A: The Islamic State commands between 7,000 and 10,000 fighters, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The group’s military strategy is still somewhat of a mystery, but the extremists have cunningly crafted their tactics and message to meet local considerations. In Syria, they are quite open about their ideology and goals, imposing their strict brand of Islamic law, banning music and executing people in the main square of the city of Raqqa, which they control. In Iraq, they focus on portraying themselves as the protectors of the Sunni community from al-Maliki’s government and have at least so far overlooked some practices they consider forbidden.

Q: WHAT ROLE ARE THE KURDS PLAYING?

A: Kurdish fighters from the ethnic group’s autonomous enclave in the north are showing signs of taking a greater role in fighting back against the Islamic State. Their role is a potential point of friction because both Sunni and Shiite Arabs are wary over Kurdish claims on territory outside their enclave.

Q: WHAT IS IRAN’S POSITION?

A: Iran’s president has blasted the Islamic State as “barbaric,” and its foreign minister offered his country’s support to Iraq in its “fight against terrorism.” Iran has halted flights to Baghdad and is beefing up border security. As a Shiite country, Iran shares an affinity with the current governments of Iraq and Syria.

Q: WHY DO I SEE DIFFERENT NAMES FOR THE GROUP?

A: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a literal translation. It’s also sometimes called other names including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The name refers to the group’s stated goal of restoring a medieval Islamic state, or caliphate, in Iraq and Greater Syria, also known as the Levant — traditional names for a region stretching from southern Turkey to Egypt on the eastern Mediterranean.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

     
    Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

    By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
    Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

     
    Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    .

    US / World

    US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

    Freed American endured years of declining health

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

    14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    .

    Opinion

     
    Crime Witness Protocol 101

    By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

    Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

    By William Pesek | From Page: A7

     
    Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Sports

    For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    .

    Business

    Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9