How the ISIS in Middle East is interconnected with the USA foreign Policy

How the ISIS in the Middle East is interconnected with the USA foreign Policy

The unprecedented crisis in the Middle East has brought to sharp focus USA foreign policy in that region. This has even led to some policy makers questioned whether the US has a foreign policy regarding the Middle East and what exactly is that strategy and whether it is working. The US foreign policy in the Middle East can be summarized in terms of economic interests, fighting terrorism and advancement of geopolitical interests. Consequently, this has led the US to intervene in order to enforce stability in the region especially when its interests are threatened as was seen with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 after the terrorists attack on US soil. However, the war in Iraq seemed not to have worked to bring stability but has rather been a recruiting and breeding ground for extremists groups as Al Qaeda and recently the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The ISIS fundamental aim is to establish a caliphate ruled according to Islamic law or Sharia. The successes of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has placed US in a precarious state concerning its policy in that region. My aim for this paper is to examine how US foreign policy in the Middle East is interconnected with the rise of ISIS.

To achieve this goal, I will divide this paper in two parts. The first section, I examine what ISIS is and its aims. In the second section, I will discuss the interconnected of USA foreign policy in the Middle East with the rise of ISIS.

History of ISIS

ISIS is an Islamic extremist group allied to Al Qaeda and operating in Iraq and Syria. It aims to establish and Islamic caliphate governed by the tenets of Islamic law or sharia. Of recent it has gained large territory in Northwestern Iraq and Syria. It has gained a lot of economic power due to the ceasing of large Iraqi oil fields and even a bank in Mosul. The group has a local and regional agenda contrary to the goals of Al Qaeda and that has brought tension between it and Al Qaeda (Johnston & Benjamin, “Obama’s Iraq Dilemma.”). ISIS threatens the Iraqi government has recently joined forces with the rebel groups in Syria fighting the Assad regime. ISIS emerges from the terrorist group formed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after the US invasion of Iraq which later came to be known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). After the death Abu Musab al-Zarqawi its leadership was taken over by Baghdadi and in 2003 merged his forces in iraq and Syria to create Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIS) (

US foreign Policy and its Influence on ISIS

The US policy of becoming “more aggressive externally and seek to crush foreign entities as opposed to negotiating with them” (Rosly, “Chaos Theory: ISIS & Western foreign policy”) as was pursued during George Bush, Jr presidency has come to hunt it. This policy of intervention and waging war in foreign lands hinged on aggressive and no compromise policy with its destabilizing effects can  been seen in Iraqi, Syria and the wider Middle East. For example, the Iraqi war was waged with the pretext of fighting terrorism bought out the bad side of US armed forces. The atrocities and human rights violations committed by the US Army and Central intelligence Agency (CIA) as highlighted by the scandal of Abu Ghraib prison of torture and abuse of prisoners added fuel to an already volatile situation. The Arabs and Iraqis viewed these acts as an affront on their sovereignty and especially Islam. Therefore, this provided a fertile ground for the emergence of new terrorists groups in Iraq and ISIS. The instability that has been caused by the wars in Iraq and Syria has also provided the extremists with an opportunity to recruit members in Iraq and the wider Middle East especially ISIS. The ISIS has occupied with ease the power vacuum that has been left by the instability of Iraq due to the US led invasion and the US support of rebel groups fighting to topple the Assad regime in Syria which have destroyed “the social fabric and rule of law” (Rosly, “Chaos Theory: ISIS & Western foreign policy”). With its recent successes in capture huge territories in Northern Iraq and parts of Syria it has become a major player in the ever changing politics of the Middle East (Johnston & Benjamin, “Obama’s Iraq Dilemma.”).

US alliance with Israel and other wealthy Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has alienated some Arab countries in the Middle East for example Iran and Syria also who have influence in the Arab world. Its policy of alliance with Israel has made the US less sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and thus has roused a lot of resentment and delusion in the Middle East. US actions of using its huge resources to support Israel instead of utilizing those resources to improve Palestinian and other poor Arab nations welfare has had destabilizing effect of the huge parts of the Middle East leading to emergence of extremists group such ISIS.

The US policy of exporting so called democracy, capitalism, liberalism, and economic policies at all costs to the Middle East with the assumption that this would make Arabs states modern and more amenable to the US has failed in the Muslim world creating economic breakdown and national humiliation (Uri, “Behind the rise of ISIS”) leading to instabilities, civil unrest and wars in the Middle East as was witnessed with the Arab spring. This has therefore led to embracing of fundamentalist brand of Islam by the masses and the current environment where ISIS is thriving. The ISIS is drumming the Arab nationalistic card and a restoring former Arab glory. This message is resonating well with the Arab masses delusioned with Western and US policies which they perceive to be hegemonic and therefore ISIS is able to recruit fighters’ intent on fighting America and the West.

The lack of constructive US diplomacy and engagement with  the Middle East countries which have more influence than US in the region has provided an opportunity for ISIS to move freely between countries in the Middle East especially due to the porous borders which are controlled by tribal chiefs. Countries such as Iran has more influence on Iraq more than the US would like to acknowledge and could be of help in the fight and mitigating the influence and growth of ISIS in the region.

In conclusion, in order to curb the influence of ISIS in the Middle East the US has to review its policy and strategy in the region and opt for a more diplomatic engagement with the stake holders rather than military engagement.



Works Cited

Avnery, Uri. “Behind the rise of ISIS.” The Progressive. 05 September 2014.

Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

Fuller, Rosly. “Chaos Theory: ISIS & Western foreign policy.” RT. 25 June 2014. Web.

16 Sept. 2014.

Johnston, Patrick and Benjamin Bahney. “Obama’s Iraq Dilemma.” US News &

            World Rept., 17 May 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

“What is Islamic State?.” Middle East News. BBC, n.p.  web. 26 Sept. 2014.