Hivos International


Annahar: Islamic State is a consequence not a cause of the current catastrophe

In this opinion in Annahar, Hivos' Middle East expert and Carnegie's Visiting Scholar Kawa Hassan argues that in order to understand the recent advances and gains by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria in June and August 2014, we need to go back to the beginning of 2000.  After 9/11 and 2003, both the Syrian and Iranian regimes saw and used Al-Qaeda as a 'potential ally' in their conflict with the United States but, simultaneously, viewed it as a dangerous enemy. But Damascus and Teheran were not the only capitals that used Al-Qaeda franchises as a political instrument to advance strategic interests. After the eruption of the Syrian revolution, Riyadh, Ankara and Doha entered into this dangerous 'geostrategic game' with disastrous consequences for Syria, the Middle East and beyond.