When Mark Sykes and Francois Picot drew the borders of the post-Ottoman empire Middle East in 1916, they probably did not foresee that a sectarian inferno and thuggish extremists would erase it a century later. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has effectively done so as it added the city of Mosul yesterday to its territory, which stretches between west Iraq and east Syria.
Ghost of Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is operating at large in parts of the Middle East, and traditional borders are something of the past.Joyce Karam
Anne Patterson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, shares Riedel’s concerns and expresses a high sense of urgency in addressing the ISIS threat. Patterson, a career diplomat who has dealt with the al-Qaeda threat firsthand as former ambassador to Pakistan (2007-2010), views ISIS as “a huge force now in eastern Syria and western Iraq,” and one that is “extremely violent and extremely well organized.” Patterson told al-Hayat Newspaper that given the high number of foreign fighters recruits in the group, the risk surpasses Syria and Iraq, to countries of origin if these fighters decide to go back.