The Wikipedia page for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has a sidebar displaying the group’s banner, coat of arms, force strength, and a list of its allies and opponents.
Among ISIL’s many enemies are included the following powers and their own enemies:
- The Syrian Armed Forces and the Syrian Opposition
- The Saudi Armed Forces and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
- The United States, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda
- The Iraqi Shi’a militias, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and virtually every other fighting force in Iraq and Syria.
Given the impressive consensus of antipathy this group has generated over the past couple of years, one wonders whether a common, tacitly coordinated response to its actions will emerge among its opponents.
Today, ISIL is expelling Christians from Mosul, besieging Yazidis in Sinjar, destroying Muslim shrines all over Iraq, and fighting the armies of three different Arab states all at the same time. What has the response been? A few hundred US military advisers in Baghdad, a billion dollars in aid to the Lebanese army, a few clashes here and there…
The reality is that the graphic above tells only a small part of the story. At various moments, ISIL has: (a) been openly allied with many of the groups on the opponent list such as the Islamic Front, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda; (b) benefited financially and logistically from other groups such as Saudia Arabia’s intelligence services and armed forces; (c) benefited obliquely from mutually-beneficial arrangements, such as selling oil and electricity to the Syrian government; (d) and benefited from the simple fact of its strategic value to the US-backed Sunni Arab powers’ fight against the Assad regime, Hizbullah, and Iran.
If anyone wants to cook up a graphic that reflects this reality, I’ll add it to this post. In the meantime, the comment section is open to a discussion of what kind of military/diplomatic response, if any, is in the works, and what else might be done in the meantime.