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CP: ‘There’s no way to separate the Iraq conflict from the security of the West’

An attack on a refinery by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

The takeover of parts of Iraq by the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) terrorist group has prompted President Obama to send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East and Europe for talks but Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project (CP) on Thursday warned that the West needs to understand what is driving ISIS's motivation.

Mauro said that ISIS, also known as ISIL, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” controls significant parts of northern and eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, having taken Mosul and Tikrit and is now threatening Baghdad and Samarra.

“This is arguably the biggest victory for an Al-Qaeda-type group since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the overall Islamist cause since the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of Egypt in 2012,” said Mauro.

“The question lingers of why U.S.-trained and equipped Iraqi forces capitulated so quickly. Iraqi forces previously battled Al-Qaeda and even Iranian-backed militias successfully and U.S.-trained Afghan forces have also shown to be durable.”

One of the concerns is the amount of money that these known terrorist groups are stealing to continue to their terrorist activities and with revelations that ISIS stole $429 million, making them the richest terrorist group in the world which would give ISIS a far-reaching goal of launching terrorist attacks from Iraq.

The International Business Times (IBT) reported last week that ISIS has now become the richest terror group by looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars from the Mosul central bank, along with other banks in the Mosul area and was reported by the regional governor. IBT also reported that it’s believed that ISIS stole a large quantity of gold bullion as well where the value of the gold is undetermined.

President Obama spoke about the situation and said, “This is not solely, or even primarily, a military challenge. Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately, Iraqi leaders have been unable to overcome, too often, the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there. And that's created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government, as well as their security forces.”

Obama blamed the unrest to political differences between the Iraqi government and sectarian groups but ignored the issue of the Islamist ideology of ISIS.

Mauro said, “President Obama is correct in one way. The breakdown in the relationship between the Sunnis and the Shiite-led government did create an opening for ISIS to exploit. The Sunni tribes in the Anbar Province and elsewhere were pivotal in ousting Al-Qaeda from Iraq and their collaboration with the Shiite-led central government was equally important in preventing its return.”

“However, ISIS is not motivated by frustration with Sunni grievances with the Iraqi political process. Its motivation is explicitly ideological, Islamist and anti-democratic, said Mauro. Both Al-Qaeda and ISIS fight for the re-establishment of the caliphate, but ISIS states this objective as its primary goal.”

The danger to western interests and nations is where ISIS and other Islamic terrorist group can once again set up terrorist bases; much like Al-Qaeda did in Afghanistan, to launch attacks in the west.

“Iraq is now at a fork in the road. It may descend into a permanent state of bloody chaos, trapping millions of innocents in a war between an Al-Qaeda-like caliphate and Iranian-backed militias, a scenario where terrorists inevitably use their bases to target the West,” said Mauro.

“There is no way to separate the Iraq conflict from the security of the West. A base for Islamist terrorists anywhere is a threat to Western interests everywhere.”