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The ISIS crisis is in its fourth year despite several efforts by the international community for reconciliation. The group has expanded its operations beyond Syria and Iraq. Despite several efforts by international community to stop the military campaigns of ISIS, its influence in the Middle Eastern region seems to be growing at an alarming rate. In the last three years, ISIS has managed to capture more than ten strategic towns in Iraq and almost a quarter of Syria (Akerlof and Chaney 381).
Besides, the group has formed series of collisions with other ethnic war groups. As estimated by the UN report on the operations of ISIS in the Middle East, the group runs on a budget of more than three million dollars annually. Most of revenues are from oil field they have managed to capture from the government and private companies (Basham and Preble 152). Besides, the group has a cartel that collects forceful taxes from the locals. In addition, the group operates a successful racketeering unit that collects ransom from a series of kidnappings that target foreigners.
Known as ad-Dawlat al-Islāmiyah fī al-ʿIrāq wa sh-Shām, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) is an extremist group that is organized with military precision in organizing violent campaigns in a bid to take control of Syria and Iraq (Calabresi 35). Despite having been in active operations for less than a decade, ISIS has become a serious global threat to security and human rights. At present, the group has active operational units in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Lebanon. Besides, the group has expanded into West Africa, some parts of Egypt, and South Asia following declaration of allegiance to ISIS by vigilante Islamic outfits that operate in these regions (Carapico 382). According to Chaney (2012), “the United Nations has held ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a historic scale” (Chaney 379).
ISIS became a stronger power and a threat to the international community through taking advantage of power vacuum in Syria and Iraq since these countries has experienced conflicts, which have lasted for more than two decades (Basham and Preble 154). Due to bad governance, grand corruption, and tribalism, several ethnic military vigilantes were formed to fight for the interests of each ethnic group. In the process of the prolonged conflict, ISIS was able to marshal force enough to organize successful military campaigns against government forces (Hamid 132). Apparently, a “UN report estimated a total of 15,000 fighters from over 80 countries in ISIS rank as of November 2014.
US intelligence estimated an increase to around 20,000 foreign fighters in February 2015, including 3,400 from Western countries” (Moore 24). According to Grappo (2012), ISIS targets young Muslims in its military recruitment based on radical Islamic teachings (Grappo 133). Since the group had good propagandists and radical Islamic teachers, it has managed to expand as more young men accept the ideologies that the group subscribes to. Since many youths in the Middle East are disillusioned by poverty, corruption, and lack of education, it was easy for ISIS to acquire more recruits in different military and leadership ranks (Pool 29; Birke 67).
According to Moore (2014), “ISIS is known for its well-funded web and social media propaganda, which includes Internet videos of the beheadings of soldiers, civilians, journalists, and aid workers, as well as the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites.” (Moore 21). Besides, the group gets its funding from illegal participation in black market trade on stolen ancient artifacts (Akerlof and Chaney 385). As indicated by the UN report on the state of security in the Middle East, ISIS runs on a budget of more than three million dollars annually. Most of this revenue is from oil field they have managed to capture from the government and private companies (Stewart 403; Saxena 32).
According to Moore (2014), “ISIS is widely reported as receiving funding from private donors in the Gulf states, and the governments of Iraq and Iran have repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of financing and supporting the group” (Moore 22). The ability to attract heavy and reliable funding has catalyzed the growth and military expansion of the ISIS beyond Syria and Iraq (Stewart 405; Whitlock 19). As a result, the group has managed to “seize Mosul, Iraq, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom” (Tessler 38). Therefore, proper funding, propaganda, and power vacuum in Syria and Iraq are responsible for the growth of ISIS.
Statement of significance
Understanding geo-political, social, and economic growth of ISIS is important in understanding how the group became a strong power and a threat to the international community. Through sociological imagination, it is easy to understand behavior change and identify forces: positive or negative, that facilitate the angle of growth of ISIS in the Middle East. Apparently, the group has been on the headlines of local and international media currently due to serious atrocities such as beheading captured foreign workers, organizing mass genocides, and carrying out forceful mass relocation of the local population despite protests from the international community. This paper will establish how ISIS became a strong power and a threat to the international community in order to establish the best strategies for countering their geographical expansion.
For this research proposal, the primary question is;
- What are the factors that have propelled the growth of ISIS in the Middle East?
- Why is ISIS a threat to the international community?
I predict to establish that proper funding and propaganda have propelled the growth of ISIS in the Middle East. I also predict to establish that ISIS is a threat to the international community because of its violent military campaigns and abuse of human rights.
Research data and methodology
This research will be conducted using secondary approach. Data, which will be collected from journals and books, will be scrutinized in detail. I chose the secondary approach because the scope of the research is focused, subjective, dynamic, and discovery oriented. Moreover, this approach will create room for further analysis using different and divergent tools for checking the degree of error and assumption limits (Groves et al. 2009, p. 57).
The collected qualitative data will be coded and passed through appropriate analysis tool. In the process, cross tabulation will be used to compare and contrast different findings. In order to quantify the relationship between the independent and dependent variable, I will carry out analysis based on findings from the academic journals. I will scrutinize each source into details to minimize biases and maintain high ethical standards for carrying out research.
Akerlof, George, and Eric Chaney. “Democratic Change in the Arab World, Past and Present.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1.3 (2012): 363-414. Print.
Basham, Patrick, and Christopher Preble. “The Trouble With Democracy in the Middle East.” Middle East Journal, 82.3 (2013): 123-181. Print.
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Birke, Sarah. “How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War”. New York Review, 13.12 (2013): 59-72. Print.
Calabresi, Massimo. “Is the Arab World Ready for Democracy?” Time, 27. 4 (2011): 34-41. Print.
Carapico, Sheila. “Foreign Aid for Promoting Democracy in the Arab World.” Middle East Journal, 56.3 (2002): 379-395. Print.
Chaney, Eric. “Democratic Change in the Arab World, Past and Present.” Harvard Review 23.1 (2012): 363-414. Print.
Grappo, Gary. Rethinking Democracy and Conflict in the Middle East . Harvard Review, (2012): 123-141. Print.
Hamid, Shadi. “The Struggle For Middle East Democracy.” The American Univeristy in Cairo: School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, 6.3 (2013): 145-164. Print.
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Saxena, Vivek. “ISIS vs ISIL – Which One Is It?”. The Inquisitor, 20. 9 (2014): 23-35. Print.
Stewart, Dona. “The Greater Middle East and Reform in the Bush Administration’s Ideological Imagination.” American Geographical Review, 95.3 (2005): 400-424. Print.
Tessler, Mark. “Islam and Democracy in the Middle East: The Impact of Religious Orientations on Attitudes toward Democracy in Four Arab Countries.” Comparative Politics, 34.3 (2002): 23-78. Print.
Whitlock, Craig. “The Rump Islamic Emirate of Iraq”. The Long War Journal. 16.6 (2006): 11-32. Print.