Struggle Against Radical Islam In #Iraq and the World: In Maps

This article from the BBC clearly shows the extent of our enemy around the world, not just in Iraq.  They are all dedicated to our extinction yet we let them grow and grow.

It is not too late to contain them.  Many are in isolated areas where they can’t easily attack us.  There are few airfields and roads so it would be very difficult for them to export their hatred and violence.  Establishing a no fly zone and hunting down the leaders can contain them in these areas.  Boko Harem is an example.

Others, such as Isis and the Taliban, need a more robust containment.  Turning their transportation infrastructure to dust would be a good start.  We can also control border crossings with air power and troops at choke points.  Any convoys and heavy military vehicles can be destroyed immediately.  A no fly zone would control the ability to fly out of these areas.  A naval blockade around Syria and IS will control another point of egress.

Can we do this?  Yes, if we have the will.  It will take boots on the ground and aggressive rules of engagement.  We’ll need to increase the size of all branches of our military.  We’ll need to spend what is necessary and invest in the accumulation of new and more modern equipment.

Diplomatically, we’ll need to extend the Bush doctrine that anyone who is aiding these groups is not our friend.  That means that states that support these groups should be ignored, even if it means that we occupy or attack some of their territory.  Those that support us should be robustly assisted.  We should form alliances where necessary.

Then there is Russia.

The US has begun air strikes in Iraq against Islamic militants advancing on the northern city of Irbil.

According to the Pentagon, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery which was being used to attack Kurdish forces defending Irbil – where US forces are based.

Fighters from the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as Isis, have been advancing east and seized Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town earlier this week.

It is one of the latest places to fall since the militants took control of a number of Iraq’s cities in a rapid advance during the second week of June.

US strikes on IS militants

Map of US strikes on Iraq

The latest IS advance has forced thousands from their homes in the north-west city of Sinjar, mainly to Dohuk and Ninewa governorates.

But at least 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority community are also trapped on nearby Mount Sinjar, where they sought refuge from the fighting.

Routes used by Sinjar refugees to escape violence

Map showing routes taken by people fleeing Sinjar

The Yazidis face starvation and dehydration if they remain on the mountain, and slaughter at the hands of IS militants if they flee, US officials have warned.

On Friday, US military aircraft dropped tonnes of food and water aid onto Mount Sinjar for the Yazidis.

Humanitarian aid drop

50,000

people trapped on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by Islamic militants

  • 72 aid bundles were dropped on the first run to provide:
  • 5,300 gallons of fresh water
  • 8,000 ready-to-eat meals
USAF

The United Kingdom says it has also put together an emergency aid package, including supplies for 75,000 people which can be dropped into the mountains. These include water filtration kits, tents and solar lights.

The United Nations says it is working on opening a humanitarian corridor in northern Iraq to allow stranded people to flee.

Mosul damIS is reported to have seized Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam at Mosul. The dam is of huge strategic significance in terms of water and power resources. The Tigris River south of the dam runs all the way to Baghdad.

Mosul dam map

The rise of ISThe Islamic State has control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq. On 29 June, IS said it had created a caliphate, or Islamic state, stretching from Aleppo in Syria to the province of Diyala in Iraq.

Setting up a state governed under strict Islamic law has long been a goal of many jihadists.

Based on a details posted on Twitter earlier this year, the map below shows 16 “wilayats”, or provinces, that Isis claims to control or where it claims to have a presence.

Areas ISIS claims to control or have a presence in

The areas where IS is operating largely match areas where its predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), was active during the peak of the sectarian insurgency in 2006.

AQI was eventually suppressed through a combination of a surge in US troop numbers and Sunni tribesmen taking up arms to drive it out.

But earlier in June, IS militants overran Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul – after taking the central city of Falluja and parts of nearby Ramadi in December 2013.

IS presence in Iraq and Syria

Map of IS areas of control

Mosul – with its Sunni Arab majority – fell after the collapse of the Iraqi security forces. Although they far outnumbered the militant fighters, many police and soldiers just abandoned their posts and fled.

Ethnic and religious divideIraq’s Sunnis are increasingly disenchanted with what they see as their systematic marginalisation by the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad and targeting by security forces.

Map of Iraq's ethnic makeup and population

Where the main jihadist groups based?Jihadist groups are spread throughout Africa, the Middle East, and in parts of Asia. Some have connections to al-Qaeda, others do not. But they all share the common goal of creating an Islamist state through violence.

The situation on the ground is dynamic and the location and strength of these groups is constantly changing, as the IS (previously known as Isis) example shows. These groups often carry out activities outside of the areas shaded on the map below and there are many smaller groups or factions we have not shown, with similar aims.

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