ISIL: History & The Future

This week, the University of Winnipeg will be hosting what it dubs Middle East Week. Every year, the fourth-ranked undergraduate university in Canada hosts a variety of lectures, debates, and screenings in order to examine critical issues within the Middle East.

This year, the University will be hosting Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer who speaks Monday night (February 22nd) at 7:00 PM. Dyer will be speaking about the future of ISIL. In anticipation of his appearance, Terry McLeod of CBC Radio interviewed both Dyer and Professor Rory Dixon from the University of Winnipeg on Sunday, February 21st.

ISIL’s emergence and future is complex and takes a great deal of careful research, listening, reflection, and critical thought. As such, let’s delve into how ISIL and the complexity of the Middle East came to be and what potential solutions might exist. For those in Global Issues, this might play well into your research for your major papers and Take Action Projects.

The BBC: Why Border Lines Drawn with a Ruler in WWI still Rock the Middle East

Below this post, share your thoughts on why you think there is such disruption and destruction in the region and how or if it might end.

Al Jazeera: How Can ISIL be Defeated?

Furthermore, what should Canada’s response be? How is this now more than a regional conflict?

Al Jazeera: What Would TE Lawrence do?

Ensure that you use evidence to support your arguments and that when you respond to peers, please be courteous. Please also only use first names.



27 thoughts on “ISIL: History & The Future

  1. There is disruption in the region due to political and militarial interference from outside nations such as the US and Russia. These countries actions have destabilized the region and have killed many people. This has caused a large shift towards more radical thinking in the middle east because these people have grown up in war-torn countries where the culture is very anti-american and anti-western due to the attacks that have occurred. Out of this fighting, radical groups have formed, and it has all sprouted from US interference along with other countries such as Russia. I don’t know how to stop the problem but what does need to change is the way the problem is being handled currently. Drones and airstrikes are proficient at taking down their targets, but along with these strikes comes an astronomical amount of collateral damage. According to The Guardian, drones, and the information guiding them are not very precise at all. “They are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after”. These civilian casualties only serve to anger the general populace of the country and therefore create more terrorists, making this way of fighting counter-productive. Canada should take in refugees and support the innocent civilians escaping the war zone. I think that we should not be involved in the fight however. It is more than a regional conflict because with modern technology and the internet, ISIS can spread it’s message across the world, gaining followers by doing so. Also, the refugees from this region are reaching all across the world and that affects us.

  2. When examining any aspect of the issues in the middle east, we must first understand the immense history behind how it became the area we know today. The Sykes-Picot agreement is something that I was only introduced two a few days ago, and something that turns out to be the core of the issue in the middle east. The agreement was made without the knowledge of the actual inhabitants of the area, and it has caused people with a lot of conflicting beliefs to be forced together. As a result of this, the foundation of the middle east is and has been broken for quite awhile now due to the English and French’s influence in the area. When the foundation of a house is ruined, you simply cannot fix the ceiling. Although this may sound like an extreme suggestion, I feel that in order to really fix the issues in the middle east we must hear the citizens’ opinions of the boundaries and what they have caused. This seems to me the only way that the conflicts might see an end. The current issues in the middle east are not something that Canada should be interfering in. The only thing that Canada should do as a country currently, is to provide aid for the refugees that are experiencing the backlash of the issues in the area.

  3. The first part of the Al Jazeera documentation “Enemy of Enemies” clearly focuses on the causes of the conflicts and attacks in the Middle East. To understand the background of those conflicts it is important to realize that cultural genocide is inextricably linked to human genocide and ethnic cleansing. Once each of the attacks that took place in the Middle East is taken out of “its historical context and the overall pattern of events, the attacks somehow seem more dramatic – rather than part of a much broader pattern that has taken decades to emerge” ( Almost every day media reports on violence in the Middle East. For many people those reports seem to become less and less significant because we hear about them incessantly. It is, however, important to separate the set of tensions and conflicts from one another. It will be the “overall pattern of events, and not the event of the day, that will dominate the region in 2016 and in the future” (
    In my point of view the biggest causes of instability in the Middle East are problems with governance and security. I would argue that with the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, the intention of the United States to bring freedom, peace and prosperity for Iraq failed. Instead, the United States caused an extremely unstable government and nowadays Iraq struggles increasingly with violence and disorder. In my opinion some countries and societies are not yet ready for democracy (or political systems close to democracy) and need a leader or dictator to rule them. Although Hussein was a brutal dictator, the United States made a strategic fault when disempowering him. The war against Iraq completely destroyed the country and formed the basis for extremist groups. “Having no leader and no government turned into occupation” (The Rise of ISIL/Al Jazeera). Specific mistakes that the United States made include dissolving the army after the invasion of Iraq and sending the soldiers home which caused many of them to become supporters of ISIS and dividing the Iraqi society along denominational lines which split the country even more (
    Another problem that causes the attacks and crises in Iraq is the authoritarian head of government Nori al- Maliki. He strategically marginalized Sunnis which resulted in most of them becoming part of radical organizations like for example ISIS.

    It is very hard to answer if the crises will ever and if yes how. I agree with Hannah that other countries and also Canada should not interfere in Iraq´s issues if the country itself doesn’t ask for help. It is also best to give terror organizations like ISIS no attention at all. Those extremist groups are most often relatively small but with their extremely brutal and violent actions they want to alarm and scare others. The Middle East and countries from all over the world need to show and demonstrate radical organizations that they are weak, have no power and are not able to frighten other people.

    The conflicts in the Middle East became more than a regional issue, because they affect many people from all over the world. The assassins of the Paris attacks in 2015 were members of ISIS. Radical organizations from Iraq and Syria are not only violent in the Middle East but also launch attacks in other countries that are not directly involved in the Iraq crises. Refugees coming from the Middle East are also part of the current refugee crisis which affects many countries accepting those people fleeing from their home countries. It is extremely important that the refugees become well integrated into the society. Because weak people (having no safe home or being unhappy with their life situation) are those that are easiest persuaded of radial ideas joining extremist groups.

  4. It is interesting that our news feeds and social media outlets are filled with reports on conflicts in the Middle East with everything else becoming a secondary story. It has developed a sort of desensitivity to the violence and human injustice that occurs everyday in the Middle East, it seems the more we hear about it the less significant it becomes in our eyes. But as Alicia very accurately quoted the reality is that it will be the “overall pattern of events, and not the event of the day, that will dominate the region in 2016 and in the future”. (
    My belief is that the largest cause of instability within the Middle East is not the radical groups that are terrorizing citizens but it is the lack of a single, stable and unifying government. Alicia did a great job of summarizing the timeline of the Middle East conflicts, starting with the removal of Saddam Hussein and I completely agree with her reasoning. When I look back to the fall of Saddam in 2003, I look to the US as the orchestrators to determine what their intentions were. The US meant to bring freedom, peace and prosperity to an unjust country by removing a corrupt leader at its head, rather the US seemed to only follow through with the part of their plan. They removed the corrupt leader but failed to follow through with freedom, peace and prosperity. Whereas Saddam in so many ways had a unifying command over the country when he fell the results caused instability, increased violence and chaos.
    Despite my belief that injustice, corruption and brutality should not be the tools of a leader it is a tough thing to consider if those things are nullified if it unites a country. I mean in a utopian world perhaps every country would have a democracy or a perfect dictator and no corruption etc. but the reality is that we live in a broken world and sometimes we have to choose from the lesser of two evils. Perhaps some countries just cannot have a democracy and we need to accept that fact. Perhaps Saddam was the lesser of two evils and just let something way worse out into the world. My belief is that yes Saddam Hussein is an evil man and a brutal dictator, but the United States made a mistake taking him out of power like that. The war in Iraq obliterated the country and provided the perfect environment for extremist groups to rise which led us to where we are today.
    It is a difficult question to ponder, will this conflict ever end and how can we help. Despite Hannah believing that we are best not to interfere with the conflicts, I have to disagree. I think that as it stands already we are too far into this to simply remove ourselves. To remove ourselves at this point becomes irresponsible, negligent and criminal in so many ways, how can we go into a place with intentions to make it better than make it worse and leave it because it’s “none of our business”. I am more inclined to agree with Alicia in the sense that we can’t do anything in the Middle East without their request for aid. My belief is that reality of these conflicts is that it will only be resolved when one group unifies the country and is recognized as the commanding authority. This idea of compromise and living in harmony seems a bit far fetched in my opinion but maybe I am wrong.
    Ignoring the fact that we created this problem and let it thrive, the conflict in the Middle East has become more than a regional issue because of its effect on others across the world especially in Europe. Refugees coming from the Middle East are moving towards Europe in a desperate attempt at survival and safety. This is an international level conflict given that countries across the world have begun taking in these refugees in hopes of allowing them to reintegrate themselves back into society. These conflicts are very tough to solve and will take the collective effort of countries across the world to solve.

  5. When looking at the issue in this region I believe there is such disruption and destruction due to the political and religious problems. Also the fact that so many outside countries are entering in an attempt to aid which every faction they side with. With with western countries interfering the fighting will not settle for a long time and if anything the destruction will increase as more and more of the region is becoming anti-western with the continuation of our attacks. Canada’s response should not be to enter the region but to take in the refugees that are fleeing the war filled areas and this has become more then a regional conflict since multiple outside countries have begun to enter and take some drastic actions within the region.

    • There is immense history behind the middle eastern area. The Sykes-Picot agreement is something that only introduced very recently. Due to the constant influence of western governing styles the main foundation of the middle east had started to crumble. The agreement was made without the knowledge or agreement of the actual inhabitants of the area, resulting in conflicting beliefs to be forced together, causing massive strain on any government trying to stabilize the area. There has been enough bloodshed from all parties and I believe that the people of the middle east and even western civilization recognize this, however due to extremist views which cannot simply be ‘destroyed’ the situation is escalating. The current issues in the middle east are not something that Canada should be interfering in, nor any other country other than providing medical aid and relief. As for the refugees, Canada may be able to take in some, but just like any other economy we need to figure out a way to support and provide for the mass of people, otherwise we risk crashing our economy and increasing our homeless percent. There is a vast amount of territory to support them but it’s just not ready for an influx of people that is migrating at this time. The main problem with extremist ideals is they are spread through the country because of dangerous intervention from countries that cause more harm to innocent people than it is fighting against. I understand that it is becoming more than just a regional problem, but instead of escalation the problem we need to ask the people for the acceptable action we should be taking. Its not our land. If they wish we fight we will but if not, let them solve the issue themselves. We can provide aid for those that need.

  6. I think that the primary reason behind the various conflicts seen in the Middle East today is the result of Western (particularly American) intervention.

    There has also been tension between the Eastern and Western hemispheres most likely due to conflicting religious and political beliefs. At the rise of the industrial revolution, mass scale production began. Countless drilling locations for Oil were found which made the middle east an influential economic epicentre. The ultimate goal of the west is to essentially have absolute control over all political influence and resource exploitation going on in the middle eastern region.

    Throughout history we have found excuses to intervene in the middle east in order to ultimately gain political influence. A good example of this would be the introduction of the state of Israel in 1948. This was previously disputed territory however after WWII the United Nations claimed it was necessary to grant Jewish people there own state despite the fact that most of them were European and had no genetic linkage to Israel. This created harsh conflict between Palestine and other surrounding nations as they felt extremely violated by the west. Although the west claimed Israel was a reconciliation for the holocaust it was more or less a strategic entry to the middle east via the Mediterranean granting middle eastern influence and trading opportunity.

    Another significant event that is responsible for middle eastern conflict is 9/11. There is still to date no significant evidence pointing to the fact that Iraq or Afghanistan were directly responsible for the destruction of the world trade centre. The United States saw this region as extremely valuable in terms of oil resources and capitalized on the opportunity by pursuing an all out invasion of the region. This involved intense collateral damage and thousands of innocent civilians were killed and unjustly occupied.

    In addition to these two examples, there are numerous incidences of Western forces (Military, Peacekeepers, Trade Sanctions, Politicians etc) deliberately intervening within the middle east. This intervention has created a lot of conflict and hatred towards the west. This is why it’s no surprise that various rebel groups such as ISIS have formed in the past decade – they hate the west because we’ve ruined them.

    Many people argue that conflict in the Middle East has become a global issue. I honestly don’t see it as being a global issue. It’s a regional issue. However due to the Western countries obsession to intervene in order to gain power, we have essentially dragged ourselves into (as well as created more) conflict.

    In my opinion, Canada’s response should be to withdraw any military force currently present in the Middle East. Fighting ISIS is only going to provoke more hatred towards Western nations. No legitimate solution can come from military action. There is no direct threat on Canada and it simply isn’t our place. In terms of refugees who are fleeing places such as Syria, we should keep our doors open and allow whoever is seeking refuge into our country. In addition to this, the only other thing Canada should do to combat conflict in the Middle East is to maintain a positive political message on a global scale that we do not support many of the events taking place in the region. It isn’t our duty or place to get involved militarily, it creates excess conflict and hatred which was the original problem.

    We are the problem.

  7. I think that one of the biggest things contributing to all of the disruption in the Middle East today is because of the fact that the Sykes-Picot agreement is still intact. The agreement separated the Middle East into sections that were either under French control or British control and although it benefited the British and the French immensely (because they acquired more land), no one really realized that the straight lines that were drawn separated divided several tribal areas. This forced different groups of people with different cultural beliefs to live together which did not end well. This is for sure one of the reasons for the conflict in the Middle East because there is still a great amount of competition between the people regarding the borders. As far as Canada helping out with the situation, I agree with Gwynne Dyer when he mentioned that the best thing for Canada to do is to stop all aid to the Middle East because it is a problem that the countries in the Middle East should aim to solve for themselves. The only thing that Canada should be doing is providing for as many refugees as possible and focusing on making their lives easier. I think that the first step to solving the problem with all of the conflict in the middle East would be to fix all of the territorial borders that were broken by the Sykes-Picot agreement so many years ago. This can be done by subtly altering the straight line borders so that they include entire territories or even abolishing the agreement all together.

  8. In my opinion, there is such disruption and destruction in the Middle East for many reasons. Firstly, I feel that the terrorist group, ISIL, is after one thing, and that is to gain power. They have demonstrated their passion for power in various ways, which include, numerous killings of innocent people, but mostly bombing attacks in different cities throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq. These bombing attacks have been going on for a long time now and there are countries that have taken action against this issue, for example, the United States. However, I feel that the only way this issue can be resolved is if a majority (if not all) of the countries around the world all come together and unite as one against the ISIL. As a result, members of the ISIL group will be outnumbered, and either forced to surrender or be killed.

    I think that Canada’s response should be to simply come to an agreement with other countries around the world in a joint effort to take down ISIL. I also feel that if all the countries around world come together and unite as one against ISIL, they will be defeated. This is more than a regional conflict because many innocent people from around the world are also affected. This conflict can affect innocent bystanders from other countries, sometimes resulting in death, and families that have friends or family that live in the Middle East. In some cases, even news reporters or journalists are sometimes taken hostage or even killed. According to the article, How can ISIL be defeated?, ISIL was “responsible for more than 50 attacks, killing almost 1,000 civilians in 2015” (Al Jazeera). It is truly devastating to consider the destruction that ISIL has done to the cities in the Middle East and the innocent civilians that live there.

  9. Gladly answering this question.
    I did thought a lot about Mid East. Most of my interest comes from military actions Soviet had against Afghanistan. Here I separate this question to “disruption” and destruction” to discuss.
    Disruption, as the video said, its origin is the collapse of Ottoman Empire. I started reading “The fall of Ottoman” written by Eugene Rogan those days. I learned that the conflicts between tribes and nations were not Borneo out through the declination of the state machine but have existed in ottoman era. Empire’s collapse just turned them from “national politic” to “global issues.” But from another perspective, they never caught attention from globe. West seemed worry more about sanction to Germany and benefit distribution on this present. The only threat to capture of Mideast, Russia, was in revolution. Mid East was totally a safe zone on this stage. It is not worth to spend tons of time on Mideast instead of plundering to heritage of Second Reich. Mideast and its disruption were ignored in the beginning of twentieth century.

    Interestingly, after that, Mideast became a mean east against west. Germany, the third Reich, was trying to support rebellion in Mideast through transporting weapons in order to expand its territory and assist its warfare in North Africa with allies. Moving to Cold War age, a lot nations in this area became satellite nations of Soviet Union with other third-world countries. Multiple times of Mideast war between Israel and other arab nations took place. What worth to pay attention to was west’s support to Israel and America’s involvement after Russians exited its business in Afghanistan, just same as what Russia did on 1970s in Vietnam. Since this time, Mideast became a carrier, a media of political wrestle between east and west. Involvement of multiple sides is the origin of destruction I believe.

    So my total idea for dealing issues in mid east is another successful national self-determination movement instead of democratic movement. Similar ideas used to exist, but they were all diminished by political or military involvement from both west and east. Such as Soviet’s invasion to Afghanistan, multiple times of middle east wars, and collapse of Gaddafi region. I personally feel that mid east today is seen as a target of benefit contends. Russia’s air strike in Syria proved its attention on potential interest expansion in Syria, escalated the competition in mid east. Countries in mid east are losing their autonomousness today.

    First is sense of country in value. From the path both east and west had walked, one experience worth to learn is degree religion involves domestic affairs. Religion although determined the fundament of political structure in human history, it varies to obstacles of a country’s improvement to modern politic. West had experienced Protestant reformation and multiple religious wars such as the Thirty-year war. East witness the overthrow of dynasties under the colonialist invasion from Europe, or something more radical, revolutions. However, both sides eventually established relatively stable national structures. A main reason is they both more or less have been taken the bear of religion off. Any modern country is built up on the base of idea of autonomous country. Such value should not only be held by government but also masses. One’s nationality should be in front of one’s religious belief. Such sectional sense of belonging is what Mideast lacks of I think.Separate of statism is a power method against organizations driven by islamic fundamentalism like ISIS.

    Secondly, Mideast should find its own position on ideology to prevent further involvement from both sides to itself. This is the same idea as I mentioned about “autonomous country.” Arabian countries in 1960s pushed movement of Arab Nationalism to peak. Arab Nationalism seeks for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world. This movement faded with end of Six-Day War. However, if similar movement could happen again in Mid-east world and Arabian world, I personally believe that would reunite nations in this region. Such unification is the only way mideast ensures its status as “autonomous country” both on ideology and economy.

    The last is the diversity of economic income, Middle east needs different industries beside oil exportation. Let’s assume, once such unification appears in Middle east countries, they would definitely further claim the benefit of natural resource exploitation to national development. After that, sanction to this union would be triggered on from both sides of the world. Similar events in history had shown in multiple oil crisis in 1970s. Today, most of countries in the world still rely on oil from Middle east and Arabian world. For example, in Asia, its oil imports depends on Middle east for 66%( economic growth in Middle east would not be able to depend on its strong oil industry. Before this union’s relationship with other organizations turning to regular diplomacy and receiving support or starting fair trade, nations in this union would need income from different other industries to support its existence.

  10. German philosopher Walter Benjamin “History is written by the victors”. After their victory in WW2 Allied nations thought it so fit for them to divide their conquered lands up into various regions of their political influence. Little did they know they were condemning the region to years of violence and political strife in the future. In essence they wrote the history of the future Middle East before anything even happened. It’s odd how disastrous even the smallest actions can be isn’t it?

    Conflict in the Middle East has lead to massive turmoil in the region. In Syria for example, over 7 million people have been displaced by the civil war occurring their and they have fled their country not knowing where to go. This situation had created our current refugee crisis. My major paper took me through an analysis of this situation, and I studied refugee lives and the obstacles they have to overcome. To tell the truth, I still don’t fully understand the plight these people go through. The strain on their mental and physical conditions is astronomical. That leaves us with the question, who is really to blame for these hardships?

    It is easy for us in the west to simply blame the problem on groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, e.t.c., and quite hard for us to picture ourselves as the root cause. The Middle East was not always this violent, something changed the status quo of the region. The people living in the region had got along (somewhat) for centuries but now they are all at each others throats for some reason, why?

    It all comes down to western influence. Essentially our actions from the end of World War 1 onwards has caused this mess. It began with the division of the region after WW1. The Ottoman Empire split up, and states were formed under different European influences. France had a section, England had a section, e.t.c. WW2 came along and more divisions were made in the region by the west. States were created with groups of people in them who hadn’t historically got along. Of course there was then conflict! The discovery of oil in the region created even more turmoil. The U.S wanted control of this resource but didn’t get along with dictators in the region, so what do do? Using government organizations such as the CIA they worked with locals to instil a favourable leader into power which would give them access to the oil. Situations like these continued to this day. Clearly Western influence is the root cause of conflict in the Middle East.

  11. In this region of the Middle East there are so many different cultures, countries and religions, which leads to many issues. This area was divided off giving countries land with one ideology right beside another of a completely different ideology. This causes a lot of problems. With WWI coming to an end in 1916, the Sykes- Picot agreement was created, dividing up countries who were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire into British and French countries. When creating this agreement they never looked at the countries that would be best beside each other, instead they randomly placed countries who have conflicting views, causing lots of issues today. Canada should not have be interfering with the problems across seas. Interfering would just cause more issues and may put Canada at risk. However, Canada should help out with refugees and aid, making sure people are safe. The issues in the Middle East right now have become very violent, causing lots of destruction and many deaths. These issues will never be over for good, there are too many conflicts between countries. If outside countries stay out of the already conflicting countries there will be less violence and less hate worldwide. However, outside countries should be supporting the millions of helpless citizens in the Middle East who need our help to find safety.

  12. The disruption in the region is caused by a number of factors. One of the factors is certainly western intervention. Beginning back in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, there has been an atmosphere of anger aimed at the west. This anger was the result of their violent intrusion into the Middle East in order to secure oil and gas reserves as well as to impose their own ideals upon the region. This is an unfortunate response by people pushing for greater control of their own country. Additionally, the instability within the region can be partly attributed to a lack of stable government. When European nations granted autonomy to countries in the Middle East, they failed to establish effective governments. These failures lead to a vacuum of leadership which was subsequently filled by men who ruled as dictators for life. Libya is an excellent example. Due to its vast oil and gas reserves, Libya should be one of the richest countries in the world. Since the country was bereft of an effective government, it is nearly a failed state. Libya is especially worrisome as ISIS may set its sights on the country, and if the group takes control of these oil and gas reserves, they will have access to a great amount of wealth. We must also take into consideration the consequences of the Sykes-Picot agreement which divided up Middle Eastern land after World War 1 without consideration of the many cultural groups in the region, thereby contributing to today’s unrest.

    There is no doubt that Canada should play a role in the global response to this crisis. But just as the United States should not bear the burden of being the world’s policeman, no single country should up and decide to intervene. Any response by countries interested in helping with the crisis should be collectively decided by the UN while keeping in mind the best interest of the afflicted country.

    Obviously, this crisis has global implications. Let’s take natural resources an example; should ISIS gain control of major oil and gas reserves, negotiating trade will be extremely difficult, (if it can be accomplished at all) thereby greatly affecting global markets. This is also already a global conflict simply because it has attracted so much attention from around the world. Most of the more developed countries have played a role, whether that is taking in refugees, taking military action, or calling for support from around the world.

  13. To come a conclusion of how Canada should respond to the crisis within Islam, how the problem came to be must be understood. Until 2003, Iraq’s government was a dictatorship and was ruled by Saddam Hussein. Although Saddam was very authoritative and killed any extremists, the country functioned. But in 2003 USA intervened and tried to implicate democracy in a country that was ruled by generations of dictatorship. Saddam was no longer the dictator and this left a vacuum of power. The people of Iraq did not agree with the dictatorship thus leading to the appearances of rebel groups, to fight for the power vacuum. The most powerful terrorist group, and perhaps most well known, is ISIL.

    It’s quite evident that this is not a regional conflict. The rebel groups fight each other and this creates collateral damage that expands beyond Iraq’s borders. Syria gets involved, and this of course leads to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The Syrian refugee crisis brings problems in Europe as many European countries cannot support such a large and sudden wave of refugees. European countries suffer economically, socially, and financially from this crisis. The entire conflict itself sparked from US intervention and as the problem becomes larger, more countries are fighting to stop it. It’s a global issue that is becoming larger, and as it unfolds, more countries will become involved.

    Many of my classmates are saying that there should be no western intervention, as the situation will become worse; however, I disagree. There are too many extremist groups within Islam. If there is no intervention the civil war will be prolonged as all of these groups have similar or equal power. For the quickest solution, there must be interference but for no more problems to arise western society must leave. Although the quickest solution is not the most practical, it is the most rational as the longer the war lasts the more victims will be affected.

    On an article of US News reporter Teresa Welsh wrote, “Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday repeated the assertion he’d be willing to step down from his role if it would end his country’s civil war, which is nearing its fifth year” ( If the rebel groups in Syria is defeated, Assad will step down and democracy can be implicated. Therefore, I believe that Canada’s response should agree with Bashar al-Assad proposal and fight with him to try defeat the rebel groups within Syria. This means that Bashar must make negotiations with the Syrian Opposition (Syrian Arab Republic). The first step is to solve the Syrian civil war, thus solving the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The second step is to resolve Iraq. In this situation the western society can again, fight against the rebels and help fight ISIL but a western country cannot be the leader. The leader must be Islamic, someone who understands the politics of Islam and can accommodate to the different types of religions.

    Of course, this is what I have gathered from multiple different sources. If there is one thing I have learned it’s that the Islamic crisis is very controversial. There are many different viewpoints meaning that one video or news article cannot describe the whole thing.

    On top of the articles and videos on this post, I have seen these videos and read these articles:

  14. The Sykes-Picot agreement was definitely a huge influence to ISIL breaking out and causing all these problems that Europe and the Middle East have been dealing with recently. The Sykes-Picot agreement was unfortunately made without having the knowledge of the opinions of the citizens living in the Middle East. Thus, causing people with different religions and beliefs to live together, which has caused many issues. France and Britain made the decisions of dividing up the Arab land without first hearing from the people living in the Middle East. This has clearly has caused many outbursts and war activity from Middle Eastern citizens. Britain and France should have communicated with these citizens before dividing up their land and taking it over. I think that in order to reduce the violence that is happening because of ISIL, the Sykes-Picot agreement must be either changed, or taken away completely. It is clear that certain people are not happy with living with each other therefore, it should at the least be changed. In the meantime, Canada needs to continue helping people escape dangerous living conditions within the Middle East by allowing in refugees as we have been doing.

  15. The tension in the middle east today is due to many mistakes by large political powers over the last 100 years. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was disbanded and divided into many countries which make up the current middle east. The decision by Allied Powers to divide the empire was not thought through. Borders were created with no respect to the many diverse cultures living there. The Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds, which are all religious groups, ended up living in the same countries. This created many civil wars, which is one of the many reasons why the middle east is so unstable.

    The history of ISIL’s rise of power dates back to the late 1970’s when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Soviets helped aid Afghan forces to win the fight against insurgent groups known as the Mujahideen. A pro-Soviet government took power which sparked a nine year war between jihadist rebels, and both Afghan forces and the Soviet army. Men from around the middle east joined the rebel group to fight, because many of them saw it as a religious struggle. Once the war started to die down the Mujahideen rebels split into two groups, Al Qaeda and ISIS.

    ISIS’ first leader was Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, while the leader of Al Qaeda was Osama Bin Laden. These two groups operated in Afghanistan until the September 11th attacks. Al-Zarqawi fled to Iraq, while Bin Laden fled to Pakistan. The United States invasion of Iraq disbanded the Iraqi army, this lead many Iraqi soldiers to join the Al-Zarqawi lead Sunni insurgency. The U.S invasion of Iraq was so similar to the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan, it lead men from all over the middle east to join the Sunni insurgency. This lead to a civil war between the Sunnis from western Iraq, and the Shias, from south-eastern Iraq. The Sunni insurgency made alliances with other rebel groups, changed leaders, and changed their names multiple times throughout the 2000’s. In 2013 the group would be referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), due to their expansion to eastern Syria. Over the last few years ISIS has been recruiting people mostly from the middle east, northern Africa, western Europe, and the former USSR. The extremist group has been committing attacks abroad in places such as, Tunisia, Kuwait, and Paris, as their main method of invoking fear. Recently ISIS has been also known as ISIL, standing for: The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. Levant represent the geographical location of, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.

    My opinion of ISIL is very different from what is shown by massive media corporations. As a terrorist group, ISIL’s goal is to invoke terror in westerners. They do this by committing attacks abroad in the western world. When Paris was attacked by ISIL, the world was shocked, westerners were terrified at the possibility that an attack can happen in their own country to anyone, at anytime. In my opinion the inevitable downfall of ISIL will be due to the fact that the group is surrounded by enemies, and has no outside funders. ISIL success is due to the emotional distress they caused by occasional attacks on westerners. When we really look into the statistics of ISIL’s attacks we can see that the large majority of the population will never be affected.

    The steps Canada needs to take to help resolve the conflicts involving ISIL, is to accept Syrian refugees in our country and give them a safe place to live. By displacing Syrian civilians, the civil war in Syria can continue and resolve itself with the current Islamic groups, without causing civilian casualties. We might be able to have civilians return to the middle east once proper borders have been put in place to sustain a peaceful middle east.

  16. While both past and current religious and political activities have sparked severe conflict and destruction in the Middle East, I agree with those such as Kylie, Cole and Zac that Western intervention is primarily to blame. When the British and French diplomats made the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 the Middle East was divided into several areas. As Jessica stated, the division of the area caused people of different cultural beliefs to live together which obviously did not end well.

    Many people such as American author Nathan Thrall have openly shared their opinions regarding the West’s responsibility for what has occurred in the Middle East. Thrall released an article in 2014 in the New York Times stating that “the West chose war in Gaza.” Because of the harm that the Western world has caused in the Middle East I believe that it is OUR duty to fix it. Deciding on how we can do this in a safe and efficient way is the difficult part.

    The issues going on in the Middle East today are far more than just regional concerns. All of the conflicts occurring in the Middle East stem off and affect everyone else in the world. In Canada, many Canadians are forced to welcome refugees into their neighbourhoods and help them create a new identity and new lives for themselves. As for Canada, I think that we can be extremely useful in helping to solve this global issue by continuing to welcome refugees into our country with open arms.

  17. Although most may think that the concern in the middle east is their own to deal with, it isn’t. These issues spread to all over the world in some aspect, such as the idea of nuclear war. Unfortunately, in the Sykes-Picot agreement, the area’s beliefs and religions were not taken into account, so essentially the countries were placed together, already having conflict, and no one bothered to look into the regions history before they were divided up. The result is what we have today; countries with different beliefs and religions who do not like each other in each other’s back yards. As far as Canada is concerned, I do not think it wise to get involved over seas, however I think it would be very helpful to take in refugees. Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the World, and we are a developed nation. If we take in 25,000-50,000 refugees, I think we will have done more than our part.

  18. Today, there is much destruction and disruption in the Middle East, especially in countries such as Syria. Personally I believe the destruction today is as a result of the Bush administration’s decision to occupy troops in Iraq. Ending this destruction and disruption is possible however it requires a high level of commitment from countries involved in the coalition. Canada’s response should be to deploy troops however most of their efforts should be directed towards taking in a large number of refugees who have fled regions occupied by ISIL. Moreover this conflict is more than a regional conflict as ISIL has spread occupying regions in North Africa.

    After listening to both the CBC interview and the documentary “Enemy of Enemies”, there is much to be said about ISIL. Personally I feel the disruption and destruction in the region is a result of the occupation of US forces. In 2003, when President Bush decided to send troops to Iraq it angered many groups and communities in the country. In the documentary “Enemy of Enemies” Bush assured the public that US forces will be withdrawn from Iraq once their duty is finished however unfortunately this mission turned into an occupation. Although this occupation may have been put forward to maintain peace in Iraq, it has been seen as a move of arrogance from the US. During their occupation, the US established Camp Bucca, a detainee camp which held over 20,000 Iraqi prisoners (Wikipedia). Most of these prisoners were Islamists and ex-Ba’athists in Iraq. Many prisoners at Camp Bucca felt undignified by being held in a camp occupied by Americans. Overtime many prisoners developed a sense of hatred towards Americans and Western society. At Camp Bucca, meetings were initiated between prisoners where they plotted their return to the battlefield. Personally I believe Camp Bucca is the reason why there is such disruption and destruction in the region today. The camp served as an opportunity for many militant leaders to collaborate and plot against America. Moreover it caused prisoners to develop a sense of hatred towards Americans. This hatred is what unified prisoners and served as the origins for the ideologies and fundamentals of ISIS. Many militant leaders captured at Camp Bucca went on to become leaders of ISIS.

    In order to end violence initiated by ISIL, a number of actions need to take place. First, there needs to be more airstrikes on ISIL. Although many innocent civilians have been killed by airstrikes, these airstrikes have significantly harmed ISIL. According to, as an organization ISIL has killed over 170,000 civilians. Therefore drastic measures need to be taken towards stopping this organization, even if it means the deaths of a few hundred civilians. Second, there needs to be more of an emphasis on becoming allies with opponents of ISIL. By having ground support from different opponents of ISIL, there will be a surplus of intelligence on the strengths and weaknesses of ISIL. Third, there needs to be more ground support in the fight against ISIL. ISIL is a terrorist organization on the rise, and therefore I believe the nations involved in this coalition must deploy and use a large portion of their military resources to stop ISIL.

    Personally I believe Canada should take a different approach on this issue. As a nation Canada should focus their efforts towards taking in a large number of refugees. Today there are millions of refugees fleeing regions occupied by ISIL. As a result the refugee crisis is another problem that has added to the burden of nations trying to stop ISIL. Therefore Canada’s response can still be to deploy troops however most of their effort should be directed towards taking in refugees. Canada is a large country that’s a cultural mosaic and built on a constitution of freedom and justice. Therefore our nation has the strengths necessary to take in a large number of refugees.

    Although the Middle East is the hub for violence initiated by ISIL, violence has spread worldwide. Since 2013 ISIL has committed terrorist attacks in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, France and even Canada. As an organization ISIL has spread across the Middle East into North Africa occupying various territories throughout these regions. According to Express a UK news site, ISIS released a map of countries they are planning to occupy by 2020. This map includes countries from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and even Europe. Therefore for these reasons, ISIL is an international problem as the organization is looking to spread across the globe.

    In conclusion, ISIL is a terrorist organization that has spread worldwide. Unfortunately I believe Camp Bucca is what ultimately led to the rise of ISIL. Ending ISIL is possible however countries involved in this coalition need to commit to supplying more troops and airstrikes. Canada should also supply ground troops however most of their efforts should be directed towards taking in a large number of refugees. Today ISIL has become a global problem as acts of terror by ISIL have been committed worldwide. Therefore I believe countries should be taking serious caution and provide more of an effort towards stopping ISIL.

  19. I agree with many of the previous comments that state that the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 in the Middle East was one of the root causes for many of the issues happening today. When Britain and France divided up the Middle East, they did not take into account the opinions of the people who already lived there, or thought ahead to predict what might happen if they put different groups of people with different cultures together, disregarding their opinions. This division should not have been predicted to end well because even from the viewpoint of someone with no personal experience with a situation like this, even I could predict that forcing people of different beliefs together would cause conflict.

    In my opinion, we as Westerners should not stand back and watch the conflict occur. It was the westerners who caused the problem and therefore we must try and improve the situation. This, however, is easier said than done. It will be difficult to find an easy solution that is safe and effective, but I think we should try our best to help. It may not be a great idea to get involved directly in the Middle East, but I do believe taking in refugees is a really good way of helping out the innocent people who got caught in the middle of the conflict and are looking for a safe place to live.

  20. There has always been tension between people in the Middle East ever since there have been different groups of people living there. The Sykes-Picot agreement didn’t change anything in the area. It simple created imaginary lines representing borders to countries. Of course, in these countries there were people holding power who oppressed groups of people. There was always racism, discrimination as well as oppression between groups of people in this area. The cultures (for the most part) in this area were not all that different either. People’s beliefs are what really separated them. The Sykes-Picot agreement was put into place by people not knowing the area’s past and present (at the time) condition. It grouped some of these people together separating some groups of people. The reason there is such conflict in the Middle East right now is because people are power hungry. People think their beliefs are superior to others and want to spread their beliefs however they can. We as Canadians can not do very much ourselves. Canada as a whole should continue to take in refugees to continue saving lives. There is a better option to taking refugees into Canada. That is raising money and sending food and other supplies to countries around the Middle East to fulfill the supply and demand. We also need to do our best to communicate with the other active countries in this issue to do our best to work together and attempt a peacekeeping operation. We need to do our best to continue to save as many lives as possible.

  21. Tension between different groups in the middle east has grown a lot over the past few years but the fact is, is that this tension has always been there. Its has just been getting worse. I agree a lot with what has already been said but I think that the main reasons that have stuck out for me are the fact that there is no single, and stable government in that region, and the issue of western intervention and political influence. Over the course of many years, there have been several corrupt governments that have taken advantage of the people in that region and it has continuously caused great turmoil in that region. Having several different governments in a region like that is what really causes the tension because each of these government have different principles and beliefs and the fact that none of these groups are able to accept each others beliefs is whats causing most of the issues.

    Western Intervention has been a major problem over the past years. The west’s obsession with gaining power and influence in the middle east has only caused more problems than solutions. The example that Alicia and Xander brought up was a great one. With the fall of Saddam Hussein, the United States only made things worse by creating an unstable government with uncontrollable chaos and continuous violence. At the start of everything this was more like a regional issue and it was their job to solve the issue but since the west decided to intervene and join the conflict they have made it so that it is nearly impossible for them to pull out and leaving the region would make things worse than with them in it. I just think that if the west hadn’t gone and intervened then the problems would not have been as bad as they are now and with it being so unstable, its nearly impossible to determine how/if this is going to end

  22. The historical root of the conflict in the middle east is mostly due to the way the west divided up the region after the fall of the Ottoman empire in World War One. The region was divided by physical geographical differences rather than cultural geographical differences. The tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have not helped the region attain peace. The best example of this tension is the diplomatic relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. They can’t stand each other. This wasn’t helped when America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan with guns blazing. Western involvement, especially drone strikes, has done more damage to civilians than militants. This promotes the anti-western narrative of the extremist organizations wish to portray, and since the drone strikes are mostly ineffective anyway, Western involvement in the region could go without it. Historically western involvement in the region has fueled the fire, so it is my opinion that western involvement should mostly be aid oriented and helping the civilians in the country rather than killing them.

  23. The current issues in the Middle East can be said to have manifested by an agreement made in 1910. The Sykes-Picot Agreement which I just found out about is according to wiki
    “a secret agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the French Third Republic,with the assent of the Russian Empire, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in Southwestern Asia should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I”.

    Since the agreement was made and no one really knew about it, that stirred up conflicts. Because of this, the Middle East has not been the same since. It has not been together for quite a while and there is nothing really Canada could do or should do. The only way to really fix this issue is to listen to what the citizens of the Middle East think and take in their opinion. Canada should not get involved as all they should do really is help the refugees that come to Canada. Providing them with care and aid.

  24. Pingback: Refugee Simulation: The Experiential Cycle | Henderson Hallway

  25. I agree with what a lot of people have already said, the Sykes – Picot Agreement is what has caused the problems in the middle east. When it was made no one fully understood the dynamics that took place culturally and religiously. This in turn has caused groups of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to be forced to to govern, live and work together in a flawed system. This flawed system made by the french and english has cause the middle east to collapse, and has created great conflict. As a country I think Canada needs to step aside and not intervene unless asked to. Western countries have already done damage to the middle east, I think we need to offer our support and aid where and when needed. But the main issues need to be dealt with but the people and citizens of those countries.

  26. Not only did the Sykes picot agreement have a physical impact on the region but it also had an impact on religious and cultural groups. The boarders did not take into account any pre established religious territory and did not acknowledge the delicate relationship between each sector of people, “That meant the newly created borders did not correspond to the actual sectarian, tribal, or ethnic distinctions on the ground.”

    The original issue was the need for people to claim land as it was seen as power in a political setting to control and colonize other areas, this modern day issue has been translated into the control of valuable resources such as oil. The demand for oil is extremely high throughout the world, ISIS has taken advantage of the resource and uses the oil economy to fund their terrorist organization, “Isis controls most of Syria’s oil fields and crude is the militant group’s biggest single source of revenue”. This is a hint for the western developed countries to start seeking new ways to produce energy without the use of oil. Until we are able to stop the conflict that we essentially started through colonialism thousands of innocent civilians will continue to suffer. This is a continually growing problem that will cause future generations to rebel possibly increasing the tension in the middle east, “This currently unfolding transformation entails the promise of a new generation searching for a better future, and the peril of a wave of chaos that could engulf the region for several years.”

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