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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Spread of ISIS

Der Spiegel has published an interview with Lakhdar Brahimi, former U.N. special envoy to Syria. In his interview, Brahimi warns that Syria will become a failed state like Somalia, and will be a source of regional instability and violence. From the article:
The opposition is very fragmented, even the Free Syrian Army. But everybody understands that the jihadi group ISIS (Eds. Note: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is not really interested in Syria. They seek to establish a new order in the region. As long as there are no negotiations, the armed groups as well as the political opposition will continue to be fragmented.
And later:
Brahimi: Unless there is a real, sustained effort to work out a political solution, there is a serious risk that the entire region will blow up. The conflict is not going to stay inside Syria. It will spill over into the region. It's already destabilizing Lebanon, there are 1.5 million refugees in the country; that represents one third of the population. If it were Germany, it would be the equivalent of 20 million. It is destabilizing because ISIS …

SPIEGEL: … the most radical and brutal armed opposition group, which seeks to establish a militant Islamic state …

Brahimi: … is active in both Syria and Iraq already, and Jordan is really struggling to continue resisting. Even Turkey! According to a senior Iraqi official, ISIS has carried out 100 operations in Syria and 1,000 operations in Iraq in just three months.
... Syria is so much worse [than Afghanistan]! This ISIS, they don't believe in just staying there. And they are training people. Your countries are terribly scared that the few Europeans that are there may come back and create all sorts of problems. So just imagine what the feelings are next door!
 Finally:
SPIEGEL: What can the international community do, Europe in particular? What should Germany do?

Brahimi: The people in your governments know how dangerous this crisis is and how important it is to support a political solution.
 
SPIEGEL: Are you referring to the 320 Germans that have thus far joined ISIS?

Brahimi: And to the 500 or 600 French, the 500 or 600 British, and so on and so forth. There are several thousand non-Syrians. My goodness! These are your nationals that are training in Syria and that are part of ISIS, which believes that you have got to build an Islamic state all over the world, starting with Berlin. That's a threat to you, isn't it?
 Read the whole thing. And then consider this news story from today's Long War Journal:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham seized control of Mosul, the provincial capital of Ninewa and Iraq's second largest city, after five days of heavy fighting with Iraqi forces. Mosul is the second major city to fall to the former al Qaeda affiliate.

Fighters from the ISIS took control of government buildings, including the provincial headquarters, as well as police stations and military installations inside and outside of the city, according to reports. Several police stations were torched by the ISIS. Some Iraqi soldiers and policemen are said to have shed their uniforms before fleeing their posts to avoid being captured and executed by ISIS fighters.

The ISIS has raised the black flag of jihad and "announced over loudspeaker that they had 'come to liberate Mosul and would fight only those who attack them,'" the BBC reported.

Usamah al Nujayfi, the speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives whose brother is the governor of Ninewa, told Al Baghdadiyah Satellite Television that "the right and left sides of the city of Mosul as well as its districts and subdistricts have been completely occupied."

Nujayfi also accused Iraqi security forces of abandoning their posts and leaving weapons, ammunition, and armored vehicles behind.

"When the battle intensified inside the city of Mosul, these forces gave up their weapons and the commanders fled, leaving behind arms, armored vehicles, and locations for the terrorists," Nujayfi continued. "Mosul Airport and some aircrafts and command locations have fallen, not to mention arms warehouses. Prisons have been taken and the prisoners have been released." Some reports indicate that hundreds of prisoners have been freed.
 (H/t Weasel Zippers)

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