What is ISIS

June 22nd, 2014 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Prospect Magazine look at what is ISIS:

What is ISIS?

It is a Sunni Muslim militant group operating in Western Iraq and Syria. The name is an acronym, standing for “the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant).

What does it want?

International recognition as an independent state for the territory it controls, which spans parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq. In this area, it functions as a de facto government, operating schools and courts. It also wants to control more territory. If it can sustain and consolidate its new gains in Iraq, it will control much of the northern part of the country, and reports say it plans to mount an assault on the capital, Baghdad (its advance has been halted just short of the city). It also wants to seize control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and potentially expand into the Lebanon to the West. In both Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s enemies are Shia Muslims.

So it wants to carve a Sunni country of of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Who are its members?

Reports vary, putting the total number of recruits at anything from 3,000-10,000. According to Gareth Stansfield, professor of politics at the University of Exeter, the group tends to recruit most heavily among Syrian and Iraqi locals, but it does have some foreign fighters, mostly Chechens, Afghans, and Pakistanis, as well as some Europeans. Michael Stephens, Deputy Director, Qatar for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), says there could be as many as 300 Britons fighting for ISIS, and a further almost 300 other Europeans. 

Any Kiwis I wonder?

How dangerous is it?

The group is well-resourced. Its new adventure in Iraq has seen it seize military bases in Mosul. In Syria, it controls oil fields, and it may yet gain control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in the town of Baiji. Stephens says that individual Saudi and Kuwaiti donors are giving money to ISIS, either through European financial institutions or, in some cases, by smuggling suitcases of bills across the border. It is also ruthless: the group has been blamed for a string of assassinations in Syria, including two alleged crucifixions. Most importantly, this particular militant operation is very good at recruiting people to its cause. “This idea of fighting Shia seems to be really mobilising young men to fight in a way that fighting Westerners didn’t,” says Stephens. “They [say] they’re saving Islam from itself. 

That’s fascinating that the are more motivated to fight Shia than the West.

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59 Responses to “What is ISIS”

  1. redqueen (521 comments) says:

    We always persecute our own heretics more than outsiders (whether in religion, nationalism, or tribalism).

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  2. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Forty megatons should be enough to cleanse the whole area and allow us to start pumping oil again after 12 months.

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  3. secondcumming (92 comments) says:

    Saudi Arabia directly supports ISIS. Behind the scenes, so does Russia. Vladimir Putin has manipulated all these events, to make Russia even richer and more powerful.

    What does Russia get out of civil war in the Middle East? For one, skyrocketing oil prices. Russia is already the worlds biggest oil producer and exporter and soaring crude prices could more than double its annual GDP.

    Russia will have more than twice as much money to achieve its real goals; control of Europe and the rise of Russia as the worlds number one superpower.

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  4. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Exactly sc while the stupid west fuck around over human rights and such like shit. All that matters is power and the means to gain it. The US has been conned by the robed folk in Saudi for decades.

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  5. Dave_1924 (101 comments) says:

    DPF – it is no surprise they are happy to fight Shia over the West. Its they way things have rolled in that vicinity for hundreds of years.

    The proxy battle for supremacy around the Persian Gulf between Saudi and Iran is the background to this. One champion for Wahhabi Sunni extremism, the other the big Boy Country for the Shia.

    The Shia livve in a Crescent – loosely a crescent from Iran through parts of Iraqi to the Shia Minorities in Syria and Lebanon – are out numbered and often targeted by Sunni’s. It has been this way since the schism between those who wanted Ali, a relative of the prophet to be Caliph [the Shia] and the other faction [who became Sunni's] who favoured someone else who’s name escapes me to be caliph

    Moselms will tell you there is more to it than that and whittle on about Theological things – but ultimately it was a political event about power. the Sunnis won out

    The Sunnis consider Shia heretics and the Shia feel threatened every day with extermination

    It will get very bloody indeed.

    Add the Kurds in the north in to the mix who have there own agenda of an independent homeland. And then the Turks further to the north who don’t want Iraq dominated by Iran or Saudi and definitely don’t want their Kurdish minority emboldened by a Kurdish state in northern Iraq springing up independent of Baghdad on their Southern border

    its a recipe for lots of side swapping and death in large quantities.

    Oh and then there are the al-qaeda lads working away as well… and some Christian minorities sprinkled around as well

    Sit back and be amazed – it looks like Lebanon again but bigger, badder and more bloody

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  6. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Nuke them all and take the oil later after the radiation count drops seems to be the best plan to a simple fellow like me with a V8 to feed! :)

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  7. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    “That’s fascinating that the are more motivated to fight Shia than the West.

    …….
    because an alternate belief so close to one’s own is most threatening of all?

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  8. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Is that why Greenie and Liars are scrapping over the minor vote then hj? :)

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  9. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    I see Atheists are fighting and killing each other again, over who doesn’t believe in any God the most. Oh, no..wait.. that never happens.

    Ricky Gervais

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  10. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    I’ve actually heard that gas with active radionuclides in it burns better and generates more horsepower given the same compression ratio etc.

    Can’t wait to try it! :)

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  11. Odakyu-sen (527 comments) says:

    Iraq is a synthetic country created in 1921. This is just the region re-setting itself naturally. Let nature take its course, I say.

    The civil war will be like a forest fire, but green shoots will eventually emerge after war runs its course. (It won’t be much of a picnic for anyone in the forest at the time…)

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  12. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    Sounds like (another) multicultural fail!? If ooonly they had our progressives (and not the mullahs)!!

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  13. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Quite right Odakyu-sen. David Lean did it’s story oh so well in 1962! :)

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  14. Reid (16,111 comments) says:

    Who if anyone is naive enough to believe that 30,000 well-armed and equipped Iraqi army troops “melted away” (to quote the Western MSM talking point – you can always tell when all the major organs use the same phrase and no, duh, it’s not lazy journalism) when faced with 1500 ISIS brigands?

    You mean a 30,000 strong force, outnumbering the enemy 20:1, just “melted away?” Just stripped off their uniforms and ran home to mama? You mean that’s what happened, when big bad ISIS rolled into town?

    So go ahead, believe that if you like. Personally I think however you’ll find a more plausible explanation in the regional geopolitics, not as per Dave although he’s along the right lines, but forget about Russia and think who’s interests are served by Iraq splintering into a 3 state territory with Shia, Sunni and Kurd, which is what I told you was the plan all along, back in 2012. And go have a look at a map and find out which of those three get most of the oil fields. And have a look at which ME state has been cosying up to that particular group ever since the US invaded in 2002. And think about what Obama’s been saying: effectively, if a bunch of terrorists waltz into a territory, then as far as he’s concerned, it’d be pretty durn terrific if Maliki gave them the time of day. Since when has the US been that accommodating toward tewwowists? And what does that say to you, about who ISIS really is?

    Oddly enough, some reports are stating that if the WH wanted to find out what ISIS’ latest plans are, then all they have to do is pick up the phone and ask JSOC what’s the latest on their embedded special force troops. Isn’t that peculiar.

    And no, I have no links. Do your own research. It’s easy. Just remember when you’re reading your research, you can’t teach even the most intelligent man even a simple thing, if he thinks he already knows what the answer is.

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  15. Southern Raider (1,749 comments) says:

    Your not blaming Israel for once Reid?

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  16. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    You mean a 30,000 strong force, outnumbering the enemy 20:1, just “melted away?”
    ….
    According to Wikipedia they sucked?

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  17. Other_Andy (2,515 comments) says:

    Southern Raider says:

    “Your not blaming Israel for once Reid?”

    Well, Al Gore says it might be caused by global warming….
    (And no, I am not kidding.)

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  18. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    Let them redraw the map of the middle east which is an artificial construct by the British.

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  19. cha (3,856 comments) says:

    The participating Sunni militant groups and John Schindler riffs on the possibility of an Al-Qa’ida – Russia link.

    http://www.aymennjawad.org/14350/comprehensive-reference-guide-to-sunni-militant

    http://20committee.com/2014/06/10/exploring-al-qaidas-russian-connection/

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  20. Fentex (909 comments) says:

    So it wants to carve a Sunni country of of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

    Reading up on this it seems ISIL is exploiting popular Sunni resentment at Shiite exclusion of them from Baghdad, it’s not that Sunni’s in western Iraq like ISIL or support their ambition when they seem accepting or non-resistant to it’s presence but that they share a common enemy in Iraq’s divisive Shiite dominated government that has been reactionary against the once dominant Sunni.

    It seems likely that the SUnni/Shiite divide will pesist, but the Sunni populace won’t enjoy ISIL for very long once they attempt to assert themselves and their medieval policies.

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  21. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Does UT, KB’s resident Islamist, pray five times a day thinking of ISIS and wishing the jihadists success?

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  22. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    mike tan (329 comments) says:

    I see Atheists are fighting and killing each other again, over who doesn’t believe in any God the most. Oh, no..wait.. that never happens.

    Hmm – soviet union? China? Cambodia – All committed atrocities in the name of things other than religion.

    Where there is a cause there is bound to be someone prepared to kill for that cause.

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  23. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    Yes but not in the name of “atheism”.

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  24. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    “Where there is a cause there is bound to be someone prepared to kill for that cause”

    Yep, and religion seems to be really popular a cause.

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  25. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    Yeah but it greatly diminishes the point you were most likely going for. You cannot kill for atheism because it is a belief in nothing, so in theory you can’t kill for nothing. However if you have a particular political belief then someone would have killed for your political belief.

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  26. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    “Yep, and religion seems to be really popular a cause.” – Yip, and politics is an even greater cause for people to murder other people. Look at all the major genocides of last century and most of them will have been done by educated people that believed in their particular political cause.

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  27. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    The point is that a lot of blood is spilled over religion. If your argument is “well blood is spilled anyway, lets just ignore this one thing that is responsible for a lot of it”, in my opinion, that isn’t really an argument.

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  28. Scott (1,736 comments) says:

    Mike Tan and Charlie Brown complete nonsense and on Sunday as well. Atheists are the most murderous people in the world once they get in power, think Stalin and Mao for the two best examples in a long list. And do atheists kill each other? Of course they do! Did Stalin kill any fellow atheists? Well yes. In fact he eliminated all of his fellow atheist politburo leaders at one time or another.
    You boys need to use your time wisely and go to church on Sunday. It will help you overcome ignorance.

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  29. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    So what do you intend to do with that knowledge? What do you think should be done? If you can’t answer that then what you are saying is as meaningful as saying that grass is green, which really doesn’t have much point at all.

    I do believe that you were trying to belittle religion and bait some of the regular and noisy Christians that post (queue scott @ 3.39pm – who clearly didn’t read my posts anyway) on here into defending their religion.

    So my point was to ridicule what you were trying to do :-)

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  30. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    The point wasn’t to belittle anyone. It was to share a humorous quote which has a lot of truth in it. Which i did.

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  31. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    Saudi Arabia directly supports ISIS. Behind the scenes, so does Russia. Vladimir Putin has manipulated all these events, to make Russia even richer and more powerful.

    I’m sorry, but that’s complete garbage. Russia has no interest in destabilizing the Middle East, that is why it has supported Assad, who may be a sonovabitch, but he is “their” sonovabitch.

    And if we are going to get into the boring “religion causes wars” meme, actually it doesn’t cause the majority of wars, and if you take out Islam from the equation, it causes almost none of them.

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  32. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Looking back to 2007, from Seymour Hersh:

    To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

    2013, from the Telegraph:

    The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.

    http://journal-neo.org/2014/06/13/nato-s-terror-hordes-in-iraq-a-pretext-for-syria-invasion/

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  33. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    scott:Atheists are the most murderous people in the world once they get in power, think Stalin and Mao for the two best examples in a long list

    Right-handed people are the most murderous people in the world surely.

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  34. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    “And if we are going to get into the boring “religion causes wars” meme, actually it doesn’t cause the majority of wars, and if you take out Islam from the equation, it causes almost none of them”

    Must be nice to have a worldview where you can just assert stuff as fact without providing a shred of evidence to back your claim.

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  35. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    Mike tan – here is a list of wars from last century – tell me which ones were caused in the name of religion that that didn’t involve muslims. http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/massacre.html

    The four biggest unnatural killers last century were (in no particular order):
    1 – World War 2
    2 – Mao’s chinese revolution
    3 – Stalin’s soviet rampage
    4 – World War 1

    None of these were done in the name of religion.

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  36. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    In addition to laughably omitting a major religion because it simply doesn’t suit your argument, implying that major wars are the only instances of violence and bloodshed, and doctoring the range to one century which cuts out a whole lot of religious warfare, you are committing a false equivalence by implying that atheism is relevant to instances where war occurred without religious motivations, as the poster above stated, that the leader was right handed is about equally as relevant.

    It is quite rare to see so much fallacy in one post. On this count, well done.

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  37. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    “Must be nice to have a worldview where you can just assert stuff as fact without providing a shred of evidence to back your claim”

    Three downticks. I see there are some supporters of asserting stuff as fact, but then again, that is quite literally what all religious doctrine does :)

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  38. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    To turn your quote around “Must be nice to have a worldview where you can just assert stuff as fact without providing a shred of evidence to back your claim.” – Show me the facts where other religions have caused major bloodshed in recent history?

    And where have I implied that Atheism has caused war? Quote me, I dare you.

    And the reason I left out instances prior the the 20th century is because the lines between religion, philosophy and politics were intertwined that you could in no way easily distinguish if it was a war of religion, philosophy or politics.

    ” implying that major wars are the only instances of violence and bloodshed” – funny how Mao and Stalins bloodshed weren’t wars and appear in my top 4 biggest killers. I didn’t know that 2 out of 4 is zero percent.

    Quit while your behind young chap.

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  39. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    “To turn your quote around “Must be nice to have a worldview where you can just assert stuff as fact without providing a shred of evidence to back your claim.” – Show me the facts where other religions have caused major bloodshed in recent history? ”

    Ignoring that most all religion have been the root of conflict at some point, I am curious as to why a major world religion, which forms the subject matter of DPFs post above, is being omitted from our analysis. Can you please explain why?

    “And where have I implied that Atheism has caused war? Quote me, I dare you.”

    You are correct, i mistook you for the other bloke, my apologies on this count.

    “And the reason I left out instances prior the the 20th century is because the lines between religion, philosophy and politics were intertwined that you could in no way easily distinguish if it was a war of religion, philosophy or politics.”

    This is pretty weak form, you can justify anything using this line of “reasoning”. Interested on your take on how the Crusades had nothing to do with religion. Occams razor tells me that you are simply cherry picking time range because you know you can’t make your point without doing so (ironically conceding the point in the eyes of an astute reader who is observing this back and forth).

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  40. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    It is pretty rudimentary to understand how religion causes conflict. Religion groups people, each believing their own doctrine to be the correct one. The issue arises where the doctrines inevitably conflict with each other (e.g. who has the right to holy place x). Each group having a different book, most all stating that eternal damnation is at stake, is a pretty strong motivator for tension and conflict. I am sure that you are correct in that political conflicts have formed undertones to religious conflict (or even been disguised as religious conflict) in the past and present, but it is a huge leap of reasoning (outright dishonest, i would argue) to use this to assume that religion does not play a significant part in itself.

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  41. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    Mike – tell me how Religion is different to politics going by your last statement?

    The reason i took islam out of the equation is due to your statement at “June 22nd, 2014 at 5:08 pm”

    “I am sure that you are correct in that political conflicts have formed undertones to religious conflict (or even been disguised as religious conflict) in the past and present, but it is a huge leap of reasoning (outright dishonest, i would argue) to use this to assume that religion does not play a significant part in itself.”

    You are probably right, that religion factors into it in some way or another, but it is deluded to think that it is a major factor in most major conflict outside of islam – let along all conflict.

    “It is pretty rudimentary to understand how religion causes conflict. Religion groups people, each believing their own doctrine to be the correct one. The issue arises where the doctrines inevitably conflict with each other (e.g. who has the right to holy place x). Each group having a different book, most all stating that eternal damnation is at stake, is a pretty strong motivator for tension and conflict.”

    So how does this differ to philosophy or politics? Karl Marx was the author of a book that played a big part in alot of unnatural death last century – alot more than the bible or koran for that fact. The russian civil war, world war 1 and 2, the “Great leap forward” were all caused by idealogy, not religion.

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  42. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    Charlie,

    What about my comment at 5.08 entails a removal of one of the largest religions in the world, from a discussion about religion?

    “So how does this differ to philosophy or politics? Karl Marx was the author of a book that played a big part in alot of unnatural death last century – alot more than the bible or koran for that fact. The russian civil war, world war 1 and 2, the “Great leap forward” were all caused by idealogy, not religion.”

    It is a good observation that religion, philosophy and politics have historically (and in many places, currently are) intertwined. I do not see how it is hypocrisy to accept this, and still arrive at the view that religion is a major cause of tension/conflict, can you please elaborate on this? Also, can you please provide a citation for the assertion that ideology has lead to more death than religion, by your own logic, it is impossible to calculate the figure for religion, so i am confused here. Also, can’t we use your logic to argue that we can’t isolate one factor (in this case, ideology) from others, like politics?

    “You are probably right, that religion factors into it in some way or another, but it is deluded to think that it is a major factor in most major conflict outside of islam – let along all conflict”

    I am not saying it is the root cause of all conflict, i am saying it has played a significant role in a lot of conflict.

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  43. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    mike – ” Also, can you please provide a citation for the assertion that ideology has lead to more death than religion”

    Figures quoted at 7:08 pm.

    If I was a betting man, I would put money on the belief in democracy being used to justify more deaths in the years to come, way more so than Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.

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  44. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    Those figures don’t back up your assertion though. They only cover one century (conveniently given that a lot of conflict has happened outside of this timeframe) and even include religious conflict (e.g. one is titled Hindus v Muslims). Some of the conflicts in the list had religious elements to them which were, as you say, part and parcel of the political conflicts. You still haven’t outlined why we are to ignore a major world religion from a discussion about religion in general.

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  45. ChardonnayGuy (1,187 comments) says:

    Al Qaeda has always been a virulently anti-Shia, Sunni sectarian organisation, though. In Afghanistan, the Taliban and other local al Qaeda affiliates presided over the massacre of three thousand Northern Afghan Shia Hazari inhabitants before the events of 9/11. As for ISIS, apparently, it is also attacking Syrian opponents of the Assad tyranny that do not share its view. As the Prospect article notes, it is being funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

    One wonders how long Iran will remain neutral if there are massacres and escalated terrorist acts against Iraqi Shia. Although Ayatollah Khamanei has warned the United States to keep out of the situation, President Rouhani seems to be edging toward intervention on behalf of his coreligionists. Of course, ethnicity complicates straightforward denominational affiliation in this context in the Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian contexts.

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  46. ChardonnayGuy (1,187 comments) says:

    This fellow also has to take a share of the blame for Iraq’s current misfortune… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouri_al-Maliki

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  47. Dazzaman (1,132 comments) says:

    I’ll buy popcorn & watch Ishmael’s descendants do what they do best……fight each other. Hopefully it gives the West a bit of a reprieve, unlikely though.

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  48. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    Mike Tan makes a nonsense assertion “Religion causes lots of wars!”, and then, when it is pointed out that this is not so, asks for evidence. Well I would like some evidence of the original assertion. Why should I have to prove a negative? Surely you could list a bunch of wars, big ones, important ones, that were all about religion, that were not directly caused by Muslims simply being dicks? But clearly there are far more wars, and far more important wars, that simply had very little to do with religion at all.

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  49. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    If you are able to defend religious conflict as people “being dicks” then it isn’t going to be possible to engage in any type of meaningful discourse with you.

    ETA: That comes across as quite condescending, i do not intend it that way, it is just an observation..

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  50. ShawnLH (4,441 comments) says:

    “Yes but not in the name of “atheism”.”

    Bullshit.

    “The USSR anti-religious campaign of 1928–1941 was a new phase of anti-religious persecution in the Soviet Union following the anti-religious campaign of 1921–1928. The campaign began in 1929, with the drafting of new legislation that severely prohibited religious activities and called for a heightened attack on religion in order to further disseminate atheism. This had been preceded in 1928 at the fifteenth party congress, where Joseph Stalin criticized the party for failure to produce more active and persuasive anti-religious propaganda. This new phase coincided with the beginning of the forced mass collectivization of agriculture and the nationalization of the few remaining private enterprises.

    Many of those who had been arrested in the 1920s would continue to remain in prison throughout the 1930s and beyond.

    This campaign, like the campaigns of other periods that formed the basis of the USSR’s efforts to eliminate religion and replace it with atheism supported with a materialist world view.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USSR_anti-religious_campaign_(1928–41)

    That is just one example.

    Atheist regimes have more blood on their hands than any other ideology of the 20th century.

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  51. ShawnLH (4,441 comments) says:

    DEATH BY ATHEISM.

    “A popular urban legend that I’ve often heard is that religion has killed more people than anything else, so the world would be a lot more peaceful place were it not for religion. The top three largest examples are thought to be the Crusades of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, and the burning of witches. Scholars estimate that the Crusades of the middle ages cost from 58,000 to 133,000 lives. The most realistic figure for the Spanish Inquisition puts the total killed from AD1480 to AD1808 at up to 31,912. Finally, records indicate that the number of witches killed may be over 30,000. Some argue that records don’t tell everything and suggest that maybe even 100,000 were killed. These three events, totaling over 264,000 killed, are thought to be the largest atrocities perpetrated by one or another form of Christendom. As we shall shortly see, however, they pale into insignificance in comparison to the consequences of atheism.

    There are two points to make by way of response. The first point can be made by asking the question, “Are these activities consistent with what Jesus taught?” Most people with even an elementary knowledge of Christ will admit that such killing is inconsistent with His teachings. People often try to justify their hatred, actions, and even killing by appealing to whatever is held in high regard by the population. It follows that if Christianity is or was held in high regard by populations, that certain people with the power to carry out atrocities would attempt to justify them in the name of Christianity. It is a simple-minded person indeed who reasons, “Joe claims he is a Christian–Joe committed an atrocity in the name of Christianity–therefore Christianity promotes atrocities.” The Bible states that the person who says he loves God, but hates his brother, is a liar. There are many people through history that have done horrible things in the name of Christianity, but Jesus’ words, “you will know them by their fruit” tell the real story regarding their love for God and whether they follow the commands of Jesus Christ.

    The second point to make is that, yes, people who claim to love God do kill, but nowhere near to the extent that the lack of religion does. According to University of Hawaii political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel,[1] the total number killed in all of human history is estimated to be about 284,638,000. Of that number, 151,491,000 were killed during the past 100 years. The single largest killer in all of human history is, by far, atheistic Communism with a total of 110,000,000 … over 1/3 of all people ever killed! If we add to that number just two other regimes where religion of any sort was strongly discouraged, Nazi Germany and Nationalist China, the number rises to 141,160,000. Almost 50% of all the killings in human history were committed in the past 100 years by regimes that either actively promoted atheism or strongly discouraged religion.”

    http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/21PbAr/Pl/DthByAthsm.htm

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  52. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    I would contend that the slaughter was less about atheism and more about consolidation of power for the Stalin machine. Fair counterpoint though, but your conclusion: “Atheist regimes have more blood on their hands than any other ideology of the 20th century.” does not follow from the premise, there is also a correlation causation fallacy happening here, for example, the increase in slaughter could just as easily be a result of innovation in military hardware. I still do not understand why all of you are so fascinated with the 20th century! It is so convenient to ignore all the conflict in all the other time periods when making this type or argument.

    Secondly, people seem to think that Christianity is the only example of religion (in some cases going as far as to omit atrocities committed in the name of other religion from any discussion regarding religion). Despite the fact that conflict has occurred at the hands of the Church in the past, it is simply dishonest to define all religion on the basis of the content of one particular doctrine.

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  53. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    As for your latest figures, aside from the source being dubious, i do not get the conflation between communism and atheism, can you please explain how the two are inextricably linked together, as you seem to be claiming with your figures?

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  54. CharlieBrown (925 comments) says:

    I think the conversation with Mike Tan has produced interesting facts, the one conclusion that everybody should come to is Man kind has found a plethora of reasons to kill others in the name of what they believe in, whether it be religion, politics, racism, greed, philosophy or even as Shawn pointed out, Atheism (which surprised me).

    The myth that Religion is the cause of most and the worst wars, actually is just that, a myth. In saying that, religion can drive people to do atrocious things and peoples misguided view on religion lead us to the dark ages and held us back a few hundred years.

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  55. mike tan (433 comments) says:

    Charlie,

    We obviously disagree on the complicity of religion with regard to historical and current events, but i agree with the bulk of that post.

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  56. ChardonnayGuy (1,187 comments) says:

    In the interests of developing a more informed basis for discussion in this context, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about ISIS:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_in_Iraq_and_the_Levant

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  57. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Wikipedia? see “cognitive infiltration”.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/jimmy-wales-contradicts-the-rest-of-the-internet

    ISIS & U.S. interests, what a surprise…

    http://www.tpnn.com/2014/06/20/isis-terrorists-post-a-selfie-with-john-mccain/

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  58. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    ISIS is a pacifist group according to UT, KB’s resident jihadist and practitioner of the religion of peace, the vile Islam.

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  59. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    I’ve never said that ISIS is a pacifist group.

    And if only the People of the Scripture had believed and feared Allah , We would have removed from them their misdeeds and admitted them to Gardens of Pleasure.
    And if only they upheld [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed [provision] from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are a moderate community, but many of them – evil is that which they do.
    Quran 5:65-66

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