Islamic State (ISIS) may not be a Recognized Nation, but it Controls a Population Larger than Ireland

Saturday, August 16, 2014
ISIS executions

The swiftly expanding Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) now controls a population of at least 6 million people, making it as large as several European nations.


In an essay published by the London Review of Books, Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn points out that ISIS is larger than Ireland, Denmark and Finland in terms of population, and geographically is “larger than Great Britain.”


Cockburn also argues that this new “state,” regardless of its non-recognized status by the world community, represents “the most radical change to the political geography of the Middle East” in nearly a century. “Yet this explosive transformation has created surprisingly little alarm internationally or even among those in Iraq and Syria not yet under the rule of ISIS,” he wrote.


ISIS controls or has a presence in much of northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq, with its footprint there nearly matching that of al-Qaeda in Iraq during its zenith in 2006, according to the BBC. “Politicians and diplomats tend to treat ISIS as if it is a Bedouin raiding party that appears dramatically from the desert, wins spectacular victories and then retreats to its strongholds leaving the status quo little changed. Such a scenario is conceivable but is getting less and less likely as ISIS consolidates its hold on its new conquests in an area that may soon stretch from Iran to the Mediterranean,” Cockburn added.


Among the victims targeted by ISIS troops are Shia Muslims, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabakis and, apparently, anyone who disagrees with their brutal, extreme and intolerant interpretation of Islam.


ISIS has received financial backing from the Sunni-led governments in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Cockburn and others have written.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Isis Consolidates (by Patrick Cockburn, London Review of Books)

Struggle for Iraq: In Maps (BBC News)

August in Iraq: More Destruction, Humanitarian Catastrophes (by Christopher Jones, Gates of Nineveh)


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