Summary and PowerPoint for presentation ISIS/The Islamic State

NSF Members were treated to an extraordinary overview and analysis, “The New Caliphate (ISIS/IS): Radical Islam at War with the World”.

Colonel/Doctor Richard Hobbs began the presentation with a historic overview of the evolution of radical Muslim movements that have now culminated in the Islamic state. Mr. Larry Martines then directed our attention specifically to the situation facing the Kurds, whose population lies within five separate countries and who do not have their own entity. Dr. John Jandali analyzed the current capabilities of ISIS, emphasizing that it is a para-military organization that has demonstrated extraordinary skill on the battlefield and a ruthless application of terror against all but devoted Sunni brethren.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was created by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.  He was anti-Shia and boasted to undo the Sykes-Picot Agreement by which the British and French had divided up the area (despite promises to the Arabs of independence) during World War I. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over Al Qaeda in 2010 and took it into Syria to join the insurgency against Bashar al-Assad in 2011.  He did not follow al-Qaeda’s orders and he was disavowed by Zawahiri in 2013.  With experience gained in fighting the other anti-Assad groups in Syria, he expanded operations back into Iraq and announced the Islamic State as the Caliphate on June 29 of this year.

Dr. Jandali noted that IS is operating as a state with an army and ended the Sykes-Picot arrangement.  Baghdadi has perhaps 10,000 troops, over half of which are foreigners. IS has weapons, equipment, personnel, leadership, and organization.  It controls territory and has the momentum to maintain control– for now.  It is extremely brutal, has brought the Sunni-Shia hatred to a new level, has imposed its strict Sharia controls (including against women), and has viciously attacked and removed Christians and other minorities.

As Larry Martines noted the situation facing the Kurds is rapidly changing. On the positive side, the Kurds are working with their traditional arch-enemy, Turkey, in common cause against ISIS. On the other hand, the Kurds are badly outnumbered in terms of manpower and especially sophisticated weapons. They urgently need financial and military reinforcements. The U.S., which had reluctantly backed Kurdish aspirations for a separate state, has been noticeably more active in providing the Kurds military equipment and has been supportive of Kurdish ethnic aspirations. The Kurds have demonstrated skills in managing an economy, as well as a military that is badly under equipped. They have been very deft in allocating oil resources, but must remain in control of disputed oil fields, especially near Kirkuk. (A longer analysis on the Kurdish situation by Larry Martines will be posted next week).

Panelists noted that the deterioration of Iraqi military capabilities has shown in the many setbacks they have been handed by ISIS on the battlefield. They also noted the persecution and horrible cruelty dealt to Christians, Jews, and other religions minorities, as well as against the apostates, the Shia. The panelists observed that these challenges arise at a time when the U.S. public has “intervention fatigue”, and is reluctant to support extensive American involvement– particularly boots on the ground. All three panelists supported the bombing campaign against ISIS that has been initiated and called for increased support to the persecuted minorities and especially to the Kurds.

Attached, please find a wonderful PowerPoint that Dr. Hobbs compiled for this presentation. It is well worth serious examination.

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