Many in the West currently regard ISIS (ISIL) as being some monolithic power, destined to overthrow what there is of the Iraqi State. Now, I’m not suggesting that it will happen right away; however, there does seem to be various Groups, within ISIS, fighting for different causes. However, dissension has always been a way of life in the fractious Middle East. Various Peoples work together; but, only to a point. Then, the situation can boil-over.
The Islamic schism, between Sunnis and Shias, has been going-on for a millennia and a half–all the way back to the Death of the Great Prophet, Mohammad, in 632 A. D. And currently, the boarder between predominately-Shia Iraq and predominately-Sunni Syria is non-existent. Both the Presidents, Nuri al-Maliki, in Iraq, and Bashar Assad, in Syria, are Shias; however, Assad is an Alawhite–a faction of the Shiites. Sort of a splinter, of a splinter, huh?
Now, let’s go back to Saddam Hussein’s Rule. During Saddam’s autocracy, Iraq was a secular state. He ruled through his Ba’ath Party. in 1978, Saddam Hussein said: “(We) must oppose the institutionalism of religion in the state and society…Let us return to the roots of our religion, glorifying them–but not introduce it into politics.” In essence, religion is personal; so, keep it to yourself!
There have been reports that many experienced senior officers and soldiers from Saddam Hussein’s Army have joined with ISIS. So, the question here is: are these members of Saddam’s secular Army–presumably both Shia and Sunni–fighting for the same Cause as other ISIS members? Or just retribution against the Americans and Iraqi government that treated them horribly, after the 2003 Invasion? Many career Officers and Soldiers were merely dismissed, without severance or pensions.
Oftentimes, the dissension within a Rebel Militia remains below the surface as the primary goal is to Defeat the Enemy–the established Army. And, once that original Goal is accomplished (If it is), then the internal differences might come to the surface. Thus, the Ultimate Cause–or the Causes of the various Factions–might demonstrate the significant differences. And, assuming that the “legitimate” Army is eventually vanquished, that’s when all Hell might break loose…again! So, stay tuned as the story unfolds…
NOTE: There is not really a difference between ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL. Depending upon the translation from Arabic, Syria can be referred to as being part of the “Levant”. The levant is derived from the French word “levee”, and is composed of the Eastern Mediterranean Region–Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and part of South Turkey.