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Pan-Arabism and the
Unification of Arabs

ISIS / ISIL / IS / Daesh
What's in a Name?
ISIS named itself “ISIS” (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in 2014 after it captured Mosul.  The Obama administration translated their self-assigned name as “ISIL” (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (aka Greater Syria).  At some point, ISIS determined that they were not limited by the geography of Iraq and Syria, so rebranded themselves as “IS” (Islamic State), to express their global footprint.  Finally, the French choose to refer to the group by the Arabic acronym, “Daesh”.

ISIS control large portions of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq.  The territories controlled by ISIS and its allies have become known for instutionalized slavery, genocide, and ethnic cleansing of Christians, Alawites, and other Shiites and Yazidis.

ISIS is allied with other Islamic groups around the word, from Afghanistan to Nigeria, and have sympathizers as far away as Ottawa and Sydney.

The Ba'ath Party
Seeking Global Unification
of Arab People
In 1947, the nationalistic Arab Ba’ath Movement merged with the Arab Socialist Party to form the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party.  In 1966, the Ba’ath movement split in half, one Syrian-dominated and one Iraqi-dominated.

Saddam Hussein (L) and Bashar al-Assad (R)

Both Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad were rooted in the Ba'ath ideology of Pan-Arabism, or the global unification of all Arab people.

Bashar al-Assad. The al-Assad government was established to run essentially as a “personal government”, based upon and revolving around al-Assads, and loyalty to them, combined with acts of nepotism and ethnic favoritism.  Purist of Ba’ath and Arab nationalism generally opposed the al-Assad regime.

Saddam Hussein. Hussein believed the Ba’ath Party to be revolutionary, but pursued his own politically motivated variation of fundamental Ba’athism, primarily favoring Iraqi nationalism and an Iraq-centered Arab world. He claimed that the Arab nation did not have the class structure which existed in other nations and that class divisions were more along national lines between Arabs and non-Arabs rather than within the Arab community.

2002: Saddam Hussein
(and al-Assad) Attempt
Diplomacy with the U.S.
In December 2002, a representative of the head of Iraqi Intelligence, the General Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, contacted former Central Intelligence Agency Counterterrorism Department head Vincent Cannistraro stating that Saddam "knew there was a campaign to link him to 11 September and prove he had weapons of mass destruction”. 

President Bush Rejects
Diplomatic Resolution
Vincent Cannistraro said that “the Iraqis were prepared to satisfy these concerns”, but that the offers made were all “killed” by the George W. Bush administration because they allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power.  Saddam Hussein countered with an offer to go into exile, if allowed to keep $1 billion USD.

Iraqis Seek International
Support for its Plea of Diplomacy
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's national security advisor, Osama El-Baz, sent a message to the U.S. State Department that the Iraqis wanted to discuss the accusations that the country had weapons of mass destruction and ties with Al-Qaeda. Iraq also attempted to reach the U.S. through the Syrian, French, German, and Russian intelligence services.

It is reported the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad sought and mediator when he became frustrated by the difficulty in contacting the United States, after several attempts.

2003: Iraq Invaded
Weapons of Mass Destruction

ISIS is Born
In 2003, the combined forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq to take down the Pan-Arabism, nationalist and socialist government of the Ba’ath, headed by Saddam Hussein.  This coalition sent 160,000 troops into Iraq, with the U.S.A. sending about 130,000 of that number.  The coalition forces also received support Kurdish irregulars in Iraqi Kurdistan.

U.S. President George W. Bush (L), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair (R)

George W. Bush.  the coalition mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.

Tony Blair. the trigger was Iraq's failure to take a "final opportunity" to disarm itself of alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that U.S. and British officials called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace.

Internation Opposition to
the Invasion of Iraq
The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some long-standing U.S. allies, including the governments of France, Germany, and New Zealand. Their leaders argued that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that invading the country was not justified.

According to the French academic Dominique Reynié, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against the Iraq war

Iraq Easy Pickin's for
U.S.-led Western Coalition
Saddam Hussein Flees

The combined forces and Kurdish rebels fought several battles against the Iraqi army to secure the norther part of the country.  And the main body of coalition forces continued to drive into the heart of Iraq, and were met with little resistance. Most of the Iraqi military was quickly defeated.  Baghdad was captured and military occupation of Iraq began. The Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, and the central leadership of the country went into hiding.

ISIS Comes Into Being
After Western Coalition
Invasion and 
of Provisional 
Iraqi Government
ISIS actually began in 1999, in Jordan, as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a group pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda. 

They participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces.  After the invasion the Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became decentralized, having absorbed foreign fighters and a considerable number of Iraqis.  The group then became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.  After several name changes and continued mergers with other groups, they became known as Islamic State (IS).

The Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad were a militant, Pan-Islamist group  -- a military movement rooted in Islam, termed Jihadism. 

Jihadism became to be used to identify various insurgent and terrorist movements.  Jihadist have identified their major opponents as being Jews, atheists, and Shiites.  They accuse other Muslims of heresy and justified their killing – this caused friction between them and Osama bin Laden. 

They said that the U.N.’s “gifted” Palestine “to the Jews  so [that they could] rape the land and humiliate our people’, and also targeted the U.N.’s support for American “oppressors of Iraq” and the “humiliation [of] our [Muslim] nation”.

Fighting Tactics
Jama’at’s tactics included suicide bombings, often using car bombs, kidnappings, planting explosive devices, attacks using rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and mortars, and beheading Iraqi and foreign hostages and video recordings of these acts on the internet.

The Western Coalition
Establishes Provisional Iraqi Government
After western nations established a provisional government in Iraq, an insurgency quickly emerged.  Dozens of insurgent attacks were attributed to the Jama’ats.  The group transitioned to become al-Qaida in Iraq, with Shiites being their primary target.

2004 U.S. Determined to
Obliterate ISIS Jihadist:
War Against Al-Qaeda

In September 2004, the U.S. began many airstrikes against al-Qaida in Iraq.  The following month, the group pledged allegiance to Osam bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, and changed its name to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, but were still popularly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.  They became the target of major military operations.

ISIS Does Not
Discriminate in its Jihad
Once mobilized, ISIS fought against the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition, civilians and journalists.  They believed themselves to have the might of right, and globally relevant in the fight for orthodox Islam.

A brief history of ISIS, The Week: Daily Planet, by Tewfik Cassis, November 21, 2015, http://theweek.com/articles/589924/brief-history-isis
Ba’ath Party, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%27ath_Party