ISIS: the Dark Cloud that Looms Over Iraq and Syria

A picture showing terrorists waving the ISIS flag.

A picture showing terrorists waving the ISIS flag.

The dark cloud that looms over Iraq and Syria; ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It is a Sunni extremist, jihadist group that terrorizes parts of Syria and Iraq. These extremists use force in the form of brutal violence to control their territory. They are known to slaughter anyone, men, women, and children, who do not follow their beliefs and have even killed news reporters and journalists (“What is Islamic State?”). The specific origins of this terrorist group we do not know, but by analyzing the history of Southwest Asia, the geographic origins of ISIS are due mainly to the Western world. ISIS comes from the Western world’s foolish decisions to invade and then leaving without properly restoring peace in the country and the poorly drawn colonial boundaries former colonial powers left behind.

A map showing the extent of the Ottoman Empire.

A map showing the extent of the Ottoman Empire.

The first foolish decision the Western world did was to divide the Middle East or Southwest Asia into countries irregardless of the diversified ethnicities within the area. In the 1580s, these states were all part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire extended from Southeastern Europe, encompasses the Black Sea, then slowly made it’s way south, in the end it encircles half of the Meditteranian Sea and extends as far as Egypt. During World War I, the British, who were part of the Allied States started to colonize more and more of Southwest Asia. Having already colonized Egypt, the British started to plan how they would conquer the Southwest Asian territory. The Ottoman Empire started to decline towards the end of the world war and fell after. Quickly, the British jumped at the chance and divided up the territories into different colonies. They never thought about the many diverse ethnicities and religions they are splitting. Unintentionally, the British caused an ongoing problem in the area; they divided tribes with the boundaries they drew on the land, and grouped some tribes together within one boundary. This created tension and conflicts when the different ethnicities tried to gain their territory back (“Ottoman Empire”).

A map showing the distribution of Sunni (dark orange), Shia (light orange), and the Kurds (green) in Iraq.

A map showing the distribution of Sunni (dark orange), Shia (light orange), and the Kurds (green) in Iraq.

Because the British drew boundaries that encompass different ethnic groups, there were different nations living in the same territory. Multiple nations within a state can cause a lot of tension. The superimposed boundaries or boundaries drawn by a foreign power through the territories they are colonising are the cause of these tensions. When drawing their boundary lines, the British didn’t care about the delicate situation about different ethnicities. This resulted in including multiple ethnicities in one territory which is the main cause for the various civil wars and terrorist acts in Iraq and Syria. ISIS, which is an Islamic fundamentalist group, profoundly believes in only one religion. In other words, they are prodigiously aware of these differences and will do anything to stop people from following a different belief. ISIS invaded Iraq this year because Iraq is prorated into three ethnic groups: the Sunni in the northwest, the Shia in the south , and the Kurdish people in the northeast. Since ISIS is seeking a “pure” Sunni Islam empire, ISIS is invading Iraq to ethnically cleanse the area and make is a Sunni only state (“How did it come to this?”).

A map showing the extent of ISIS' control.

A map showing the extent of ISIS’ control.

Not only is having multiple nations in one state a cause of ISIS, but the United States invasion of Iraq is also a cause of ISIS. The U.S.’s invasion was a provokation in the face of ISIS. When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, their mission was to put an end to the misery Saddam Hussein was impending on his people (Jacobsen, Tor). Well, they had good intentions but they killed many thousands through this process. In fact, over 500,000 people were killed during the invasion (“Iraq Body Count”). The U.S. not only failed to restore peace in Iraq, but made situations even worse after they left. Most of the country was in rubble and the country lacked basic services. The U.S.’s failed mission to restore peace in Iraq only provoked ISIS to become more determined to work towards their goal of an Islamic state. They didn’t want anymore foreign culture or people coming into their holy land (Kedhery, Ali).

In conclusion, ISIS’s origin is mainly caused by Western interventions in conflicts in Southwest Asia. First, the colonial boundaries drawn by Britain, the former colonial power of the Middle East, caused tension amongst ethnic groups. Then, Western involvement in trying to gain peace in the Middle East was unseccessful, because it provoked ISIS to use more violent methods to show that they do not want any influence from other countries. ISIS is indeed like a dark cloud that looms over the Middle East. It crawls over the land causing storms and killing innnocent people mercilessly.



Works Cited

“What Is Islamic State?” BBC News- Middle East. 26 Sept. 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014.


“Iraq: How Did It Come to This?” The Economist 27 June 2014 Web. 25 Dec. 2014.



“Ottoman Empire.” BBC Religions. BBC, 4 Sept. 2009. Web. 25 Dec. 2014.


Khedery, Ali. “How ISIS Came to Be.” The Guardian. The Observer, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 25

Dec. 2014.


Iraq Body Count. Iraq Body Count Organization, 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014


Jacobsen, Tor. “Why Did the United States Invade Iraq in 2003?” Popular Social Science.

12 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.



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