The decision by EU member states – and others – to supply the Iraqi Kurds with weapons in the face of an onslaught by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seems logical. But what unintended future consequences could this have?
While al-Qaeda made a frightening return with its attack in Paris last week, 2014 was very much marked by a different, yet equally menacing form of terror: the rapid ascent of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant organisation, known as ISIL or ISIS (Daech in Arabic). Now running a proto-state, ISIL has been elevated from a mere terrorist group to something far more ambitious. Whereas al-Qaeda and its outlets conduct terrorist attacks as trained commandos with pre-identified, high-profile targets, ISIL encourages suicide bombings and ‘lone wolf’ actions, as also the two Paris attacks (however coordinated) showed.
Yet ISIL’s aspirations to forge a state based on extremist interpretations of Islam run even higher. A key question therefore is not only whether ISIL can be contained but can other groups replicate its achievements?