Iraq and ISIS Crisis

The turmoil in the Middle-East doesn’t seem to have an end in the close sight. What started as a minor intrusion into the territory of Iraq has turned into one of the biggest crisis in the world at present. According to the latest official reports from the Iraq Government, most parts of the country’s biggest Oil Refinery, Baiji, have been overtaken by the ISIS militants. In addition to that, most parts of the country’s second largest city, Mosul, are under ISIS control. Accepting helplessness, the Iraqi Government in the beginning itself formally requested the US to launch airstrikes against the ISIS insurgents. From Indian point of view, the abduction of 40 Indian migrant workers from the affected areas has put the Indian Government into the spot with the families of the victims demanding a swift response.

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also called ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’- is a self-proclaimed independent state covering areas of Iraq and Syria. It has also been given the name ‘Al-Qaeda 2.0’ due to the initial support it had from the feared terrorist outfit. Formed in 2013, it aims at putting in place a Caliphate in the areas of Iraq having Sunni majority. It must be noted that Al-Qaeda snapped its relations with ISIS within one year of its formation. ISIS is known for its brutality which far surpasses the exploits of Al-Qaeda. Their leader, Abu Dua or Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, was detained by the US Army from 2005 to 2009.

There have been a number of violent videos released by the militants in the past 2 weeks including a video showing execution of 1700 Iraqi soldiers. Although the Iraqi Government denies the massacre on such a large scale, it is not ruling out the death of its soldiers in significant numbers. Citing the criticality of the situation, Iran has offered Iraq ‘Everything it needs to fight ISIS’. At that point, the US officials also hinted at working together with Iran to save Iraq from getting completely overrun by the militants. However, the American response to the issue has not been very consistent. President Obama in a press conference on June 19 categorically stated that USA would not send combat troops, but will provide expert assistance. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry is currently on a visit to the Middle East, including Iraq. He has admitted that the Iraq failed to see the rising tides of ISIS militancy and the country was taken by surprise as ISIS opened its frontal attack. Kerry also said that the areas captured by ISIS are likely to stay with the latter, admitting the capability of the militant organization. However, the adjacent Kurdish area sources claim that they had forewarned the US and British authorities about the increasing military strengthening of the ISIS.

Meanwhile, amid the rising pressure on the Indian Government to take some action for its citizens’ safety in Iraq, the Prime Minister Nardendra Modi has directed the External Affairs Ministry to put up its best efforts to rescue the 40 Indian workers kidnapped by the ISIS militants. The biggest problem in front of the Indian Government is that they don’t have any second party to negotiate for the safety for their citizens. Mosul, from where the Indian workers were kidnapped, is out of bounds of the Iraqi Government. The Prime Minister has sent a former envoy, Suresh Reddy, to the Oil rich town of Mosul to expedite the process of bringing back the Indians. The issue has been further complicated due to the fact that no specific group among the ISIS has taken the responsibility of the Indian workers’ kidnapping.

With ISIS crisis likely to linger on, the International community must put a hand forward to help Iraq before the issue causes further blood-shed.

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