ISIS: Redrawing the Middle East

By Frank Vera

Abu al-Saraqbi, a Senior Commander of the Islamic Front, lies on the ground with his hands tied behind his back. A member from the group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stands over the Senior Commander and forcibly hatchets his neck with a machete causing his head to roll inches away from his torso in a matter of seconds. As sad that this action may seem, I believe the best thing in the long-term for the region in Iraq is the intervention of ISIS and implementation of the three-state solution.

As of now, ISIS is moving from Syria into Iraq and has captured Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities. The American media is labeling them as a “terrorist group,” although I would think of ISIS as more of an insurgent group, for the reason that they are taking over cities as opposed to terrorizing neighborhoods and hiding such as Al-Qaeda. ISIS is attempting to destroy borders that were placed long ago by the British and wish to establish the three-state solution that would place Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in their rightful regions.

ISIS is getting rid of the core pieces of instability that were placed long ago by European colonization. It’s being done with atrocities, but sometimes it’s the only way to get things done. World War I created the modern Middle East as a result of the Ottoman Empire being on the losing side of the war. The French and the British were able to get their hands on the Middle East region and gave Arabs land as gratitude for helping overthrow the Ottoman Empire. The British were the ones who designed the borders that are present today, deliberately causing fragmentation, as opposed to a unified country to protect their interests, not for stability. To add to this fragmentation, I feel the British purposefully placed minority groups in power since they are more willing to fight in a country that they are outnumbered in and allows the British to link their interests with those of the minority group. This imbalance in power causes the situation to become dangerous and leads to my next point: the three-state solution.

When you have a minority group in complete control over a country, the inevitable implosion will transpire. What I think is occurring now with the involvement of ISIS is one of the solutions that was proposed after Saddam, which is the establishment of the three-state solution. We must look at the reality that Iraq is not one country and those who try to make it one cause it to be volatile. Most Iraqi groups are fine living together, but they just want to be able to be the ones to run their region. ISIS is erasing these borders placed by the British and uniting people who should be together. The Kurds in the North of Iraq are also now more united as a result and have retaken territory that they’ve always claimed to be theirs, such as Kirkuk, an oil rich city in the North. I presume ISIS will keep expanding until they clash with Shia’s in the south of Iraq, where they’ll meet real opposition considering that’s where a lot of the Shiite population is located. Naturally, the southern border will be created as a result.

There are also many Iraqi insurgents in ISIS who claim they’re fighting solely for the three-state solution and once the conquest is over they will be done with the war. Borders made from the WWI agreement might have even been erased by now if it wasn’t for U.S. and European intervention.

Now, what if a lot of people are killed in the process? If we intervene now we would be postponing the inevitable sectarian violence that would resume when the U.S. withdraws from Iraq and may result in unnecessary American deaths. Allow Iraq to find itself and if they’re not able to do it peacefully then it will be done, unfortunately, with violence. ISIS is creating new borderlines chaotically but I believe it’s leading to a more stable future. The implementation of the three-state solution would ease ethnic tensions and gather Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in their proper lands. But if we keep listening to conservatives with their talking points who want it done their way with U.S. troops and missiles, well, that’s the reason why we are in this mess to begin with.


Frank Vera is a fourth-year public health science major. He can be reached at