Island Model United Nations Military Staff Committee. Military Staff Committee Background Guide ISLAND MODEL UNITED NATIONS

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1 Background Guide ISLAND MODEL UNITED NATIONS

2 Dear Delegates, I would like to formally welcome you to the at IMUN My name is Tyler Pickford and I will be your Director for the duration of the conference. Your chair, Fischer Woodbridge, and I look forward to your insightful points of view, thoughtful discussion, and innovative solutions. Background To date, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have to date taken over a third of Iraq. They are referred to as ISIS for short and can be understood by briefly looking at their history. Before becoming a smaller splinter cell organization ISIS was called Al Qaeda in Iraq. ISIS was a key part in the insurgency after America s 2003 invasion that toppled Saddham Hussein. Back in 2003 and shortly afterwards ISIS held a significant support from the Sunnis, who were furious about the American insurgency. The minority group felt as if they were being marginalized by the new Shiite government. Al Qaeda in Iraq, however, wanted more than mere equality. They set out to create an Islamic state, bridging together Iraq and Syria to create a kind of caliphate. Their methods were brutal, and throughout the next few years they imposed harsh rulings; restricting civilians from selfexpression and restricting many civil liberties. Beheadings became a more common scare tactic. Insurgents had no reservations in tearing off limbs or decapitating carcasses. In fact, it has become one of their major trademarks.

3 As Al Qaeda in Iraq became more extreme, their Sunni support base quickly evaporated. Most Sunni Muslims sided with the US military in efforts to establish an Iraq free of Al Qaeda. Through a surge of military force, this was accomplished, and to this day the US takes proud credit in this accomplishment. However, in doing so they empowered the Sunnis militarily, and the marginalized minority group now had more firepower than ever before. Meanwhile, after having been forced out of Iraq, the Al Qaeda in Iraq forces moved to Syria, where they sided with the rebels trying to topple the Assad regime. During this conflict, the insurgents methods were so extreme and horrific that the upper levels of Al Qaeda declared that they no longer associated themselves with Al Qaeda in Iraq. After this split, the group changed their name to ISIS and began to seize precious resource sites and much-needed utility stations. Back in Iraq, the leader of the Shiite government, Nouri al-maliki, was empowering Shiites and breathing up Sunni protests. The situation was grave. The Sunni population began to hate and fear Maliki and this opened the perfect opportunity for ISIS entrance. In response to the marginalization of the Sunnis, ISIS initiated the invasion of Iraq and to date have left nothing but a trail of blood behind them. Crisis With ISIS: Iraq in Trouble Tension has long been mounting in Sunni-majority parts of Iraq. When it broke on June 10th, violence spread like a sand-storm in the desert. Within 48 hours of seizing Mosul, Iraq s second-

4 biggest city, Sunni rebels had barreled down a 200-mile stretch of the Tigris river valley, scattering troops loyal to Iraq s Shia-dominated central government and threatening Baghdad, the capital. Baghdad itself is unlikely to fall any time soon. The insurgents, numbering at most tens of thousands and armed with light weapons, are wary of grappling with a city of seven million people. Besides, despite chilling calls by ISIS for the slaughter of Shias, most of its more numerous allies within Iraq say they seek not conquest but either autonomy for Sunnis or a fairer share of power in a united Iraq. They also fear a full-blown return to the grisly sectarian warfare that erupted in , when scores of thousands died and at least a million fled their homes. How did Iraq, a country the world has happily ignored since American troops departed in 2011, come to this? The signs of an accelerating decline have been obvious for months, though the rot goes back further. Some still blame the drawing of inaccurate colonial borders nearly a century ago. Others say the Americans, whose invasion in 2003 was, ironically, excused in part by empty claims of al-qaeda penetration, wrecked what was left of Iraq s administrative and social fabric after the sadistic rule of Saddam Hussein. Fingers often also point at Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose rivalry has helped stoke sectarian mayhem in Syria as well as Iraq, and poisons Sunni- Shia relations more widely. Interest Groups ISIS

5 ISIS' beginnings can be traced to the Second Gulf War in 2003, when the U.S., along with a small coalition of other nations, invaded Iraq and toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Amongst the diverse insurgency, fighting coalition forces, and new Iraqi government, was the extremist Islamic group al-qaida in Iraq. ISIS was formed out of the al-qaeda affiliate in April of last year and led by Abu Bakr al-baghdadi. Initially centered on Iraq and known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), ISIS added the second S for Syria to its name as that nation's civil war erupted several years ago. In late summer 2011, ISI leader Abu Bakr al-baghdadi dispatched operatives to Syria to set up a new jihadist organization. ISIS goal has been set in stone from the start: found a strong Sunni Islamic state. Iraq is currently a majority Shia country, and the Sunni Muslim minority has been consistently suppressed in recent years. Currently, ISIS holds a substantial amount of territory in both Syria and Iraq. During the expansionary process over past months, ISIS has secured oil reserves, clean water centers, control many of the primary power sources of the country. Iraq Government Iraq s central government is a dysfunctional coalition of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders. Maliki, a Shiite, has emerged as the strongest politician in Iraq, a master tactician who enjoys close relations both with the US and Iran. Maliki is also known to openly suppress the Sunni minority in Iraq. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) While Kurdish leaders participate in the central state institutions in Baghdad navigating between Sunnis and Shiites they do as they please in their autonomous entity in the Kurdish north. The Barzanis and the Talabanis are the two most powerful Kurdish families. Their flourishing trade relationship with Turkey, despite the Kurdish issue in that country, shows that everything is possible in politics. United States The United States openly condemns ISIS and their actions in both Syria and Iraq. They have been in thorough support of the Iraqi government throughout the escalating conflict. On September 10, the US announced a comprehensive strategy for destroying ISIS in both Iraq and

6 Syria. The campaign centers an expanded air war against ISIS in both countries and the provision of arms and training to local allies on the ground the Iraqi army, the Kurdish peshmerga, and moderate Syrian rebels. This didn't come out of nowhere. On August 7, President Obama announced that he had authorized the US military to launch air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq if they threatened the Kurdish capital of Erbil, or the thousands of civilians that were trapped on Mount Sinjar, both in northern Iraq. The ISIS militants had pushed into Kurdish territory and surrounded thousands of civilians, who are members of an ethno-religious minority known as Yazidis, on a mountain where they lack food and water. The siege of Mount Sinjar has since been broken, and US-Kurdish-Iraqi cooperation has pushed ISIS back from its early-august high point. Questions to Consider 1. How has Western military intervention worked in past with respect to toppling oppressive campaigns? 2. What is fuelling/funding ISIS? Is the possible to intercept? 3. What types of military intervention are the most effective in the short term versus the long term? 4. How can military intervention be used in a way that minimizes collateral damage 5. If ISIS is destroyed, how can Iraq prevent rebel uprisings in the future? 6. What natural resources and utility centers fall at risk when attacking ISIS? 7. What are ISIS strengths and weaknesses? 8. Which nation(s) should and are willing to contribute their military resources?

7 9. How can the mistakes made in the 2003 invasion of Iraq be avoided? 10. Could the destruction of ISIS prompt the creation of a new terrorist organization?

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