The Levant Exclusive – By Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh*
Regional developments have created the pressure towards a solution to the ongoing security crisis created by the Islamic State in Iraq. While there are various aspects and pressure points, the challenges facing those countries bordering Iraq are still increasing.
The challenges are also unlike anything faced in the recent past, with evidence that large sums of money have been used by ISIS to literally purchase followers in several countries. Apparently, this is similar to what happened a few weeks ago in Ersal, Lebanon. This new growth model presents a real risk for neighbouring countries requiring Jordan and Saudi Arabia to be more proactive.
In order to understand what really happened in Iraq how it is impacting the region it is important to consider the international consensus on the need to address the situation and to do it quickly. The consensus amongst the political class in Iraq also formed quickly to end the fragmentation in order to make facing the risk of IS the priority issue in the country. This political consensus galvanized the Iraqi troops that confronted ISIS on the ground.
Analyzing the threat of ISIS in Iraq, consideration must be given to the robustness of the Iranian and Turkish borders protecting from expansion as well as the progress of the Syrian Army on the Iraqi borders. In addition, there is a lot of resentment amongst Sunnis in Iraq as a result of the brutality of ISIS. In addition, there were clashes between ISIS and former members of the Baath Party, followers of Naqsabandiyah and of course the Kurds. IS will soon face a united alliance of groups in Iraq.
These factors also indicate an increased likelihood that ISIS will push across borders soon, but also that expansion options are limited to the south and west. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are most at threat. The Saudis are already facing threats on several fronts, especially after Al Qaeda in Yemen declared an alliance with IS.
The military force and terrorists that ISIS controls is no longer a secret, including dormant cells. Accordingly with more pressure on IS in Iraq, they may be forced to make use of all of its resources, adopting new tactics in new places to continue to sabotage and destruction it is reaping across the region.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh is a Jordanian researcher and analyst.