21 January 2015
THIS year, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is seen as the primary threat arising from Islamic radicalism. It has rapidly overtaken Al-Qaeda in international coverage and in the attention paid by governments around the world, including South-east Asia. Yet, ISIS, which is also known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State (IS), did not exist three years ago.
It now controls large stretches of territory in Iraq and Syria, mounts a sophisticated social media campaign and elicits pledges of loyalty worldwide, far from its roots in the brutal civil war in Syria.
The rise of ISIS reflects the bitter Sunni/Shi’ite sectarian conflict in the Middle East. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad’s military and intelligence services, Iraq’s Shi’ite Islamist militias, Lebanon’s Hizbollah – strongly supported by Iran – confronted Syria’s Sunni Arab opposition.
…The writer is Distinguished Fellow and Bakrie Professor of South-east Asia Policy, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 21/01/2015