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ISIS and the U.S. Presidential Election

The United States is already taking some steps to roll back the Islamic State (ISIS) and restrict its resources and recruits, including airstrikes, armin
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a non-partisan post and a video that is fairly balanced; this video nicely lays out some of the cultural and political factors that the next president of the United States should consider when crafting foreign policy in the especially problematic Middle East.  

 

Tags: Syria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics, Iraq, devolution, terrorism, ISISMiddle East.

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The 9 biggest myths about ISIS

The 9 biggest myths about ISIS | Geography Education | Scoop.it
If you want to understand the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, the first thing you have to know about them is that they are not crazy. Murderous adherents to a violent medieval ideology, sure. But not insane.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This interactive is a series of related articles, each designed to tackle popular narratives that have been constructed to explain ISIS; there are bits of truths in these myths, but they fail to fully contextualize the reality on the ground.  These nine myths are:

  1. ISIS is crazy and irrational
  2. People support ISIS because they like its radical form of Islam
  3. ISIS is part of al-Qaeda
  4. ISIS is a Syrian rebel group
  5. ISIS is only strong because of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki
  6. ISIS is afraid of female soldiers
  7. The US can destroy ISIS
  8. ISIS will self-destruct on its own
  9. ISIS is invincible

 

Tags: SyriaIraq, MiddleEast, conflict, political, geopolitics.


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David Lizotte's curator insight, March 14, 2015 2:39 PM

This article does a good job helping the reader gain a more rounded perspective of ISIS, that is ISIS' rational. The writer feels it necessary for people to better understand ISIS' reasoning for its being so there are in turn no misjudgments formed about the terrorists. I knew the writer was in no way defending ISIS, rather giving an intellectual input on the matter to try and enhance everyones perspective. However, as contextual as it was, the writer truly needed to get across how crude/violent the movement truly is. Yes, understanding ISIS is important, it helps form a more precise explanation for their actions... but they are terrorists whom are exploiting the misfortune of a people (Sunni misrepresentation in a political setting) in order to form a society... which is ultimately founded on violence and acts that counter the true fundamentals and meaning of Islam. A less experienced reader could perceive this article as defending the reasoning(s)/rational of ISIS.

Personally, I find that there is rational behind every movement/terrorist factions/rebel actions, etc... There is usually a common goal, no matter how well-thought out and actions then occur in order to obtain this goal, no matter how well-thought out. Even Joseph Kony (at his height), rampaging through central Africa has a rational behind his actions-to disrupt villages/communities, gain profit in food and money, as well as abduct and dehumanize young children in order to make them fierce warriors, all these reasons ultimately support his main issue/goal, that being fighting government suppression. Horrible rational which leads to atrocities, yet no piece was written to help the world gain a better understanding of Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army. Because in either case they are terrorists...

Yes, understanding the enemy and how/why it functions the way it does is important. Yes, interpreting there rational is important. But this article truly fails to get across how ruthless and disturbed ISIS actually is. The writer states ISIS is basically doing what many rebel groups do when upset with the political setting... they rebel and try to form there own territory. Well, this is true, especially the political reasoning behind ISIS' actions and its existence (something the article does do a good job explaining) but the way ISIS goes about is non-comparable. Look at the Russian-backed separatists in the Eastern Ukraine. Both oppositions engaged in war fare. They aren't playing a game of hide and seek beheading civilians, torturing reporters, etc... all for political gains... ISIS are terrorists-of course they have a rational, of course they are smart, there predecessor "al-Qaeda" were smart too. Joseph Kony can be seen as smart... he hasn't gotten caught, thats smart isn't it? 

The article explains that them being smart and having a strong rational motive makes them dangerous. No kidding they are dangerous.

The article does a good job at educating people about ISIS yet it certainly teeters on the line of defending them. It gives reasoning behind there soulless attacks, scholars know the reasoning, they do not have to be written out in a quasi defense format like I believe this article does. "The end justifies the means" is the perspective of the Islamic State... it shouldn't be so for this writer!

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, March 18, 2015 9:04 PM

This may be a little off topic but with a President like Obama, how could America even try to stop ISIS alone?  That man has made a fool of our country!  I don't think ISIS would self-destruct on its own; it will continue to grow and become more powerful because people are afraid.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 23, 2015 6:13 AM

Like much of the Middle East, ISIS is shrouded in myth. To many Americans, they are just a band of savage lunatics who want to chop peoples heads off. In reality they are not that insane. The violence they commit is calculated. "It  is targeted to weaken their enemies and strengthen ISIS' hold on territory, in part by terrorizing the people it wishes to rule over". They are driven by radical ideology, but they do have an ultimate goal in mind. They want to rule territory and form their own radical empire. Violence is a tool to achieve that aim.  The rest of this article describes eight other myths commonly associated with ISIS. This article does an excellent job of breaking down commonly held assumptions of ISIS.

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Would Turkey accept a Kurdish state?

Would Turkey accept a Kurdish state? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
As the likelihood of an independent Kurdish state on Turkey’s eastern border grows, Ankara is losing its historical resistance to the idea.


Developments in Iraq have left Turkey facing the prospect of an independent Kurdish state on its eastern border. Such an idea would have been abhorrent for Turkey a mere decade ago for fear that its existence would incite separation among its own restive Kurds. The standard Turkish narrative at the time was that an independent Kurdistan was a Western project aimed at destroying Turkey, an age-old ambition. Even the 2003 US invasion of Iraq was viewed in this context by many. The picture is no longer so black and white.

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MsPerry's curator insight, August 12, 2014 7:44 PM

APHG-U4

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 26, 2015 1:56 PM

The Kurdish people have longed for their own, independent nation for centuries, and it seems like the recent fission of Iraq has opened the door for their dream to become a reality. Although Turkey has long since been opposed to the existence of an ethnic Kurdish state (the result of its own sizable Kurdish minority), the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the subsequent military successes of the Kurds against militant Islamic groups have raised an important question: why don't they deserve their own nation? The Kurds have shown their dedication to the cause in combat, not shying away from the bloodshed that has gripped the region in the name of independence. Although the fracturing of the Iraqi state falls firmly against all official US and Turkey positions on the matter, the reality of the situation is far more complicated, and the supposed benefits of keeping Iraq together are seeming less and less worth the fighting. The Kurds have proven themselves capable of organizing, and they could perhaps add a new dimension of stability to the region.

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The Beginning of a Caliphate: The Spread of ISIS

The Beginning of a Caliphate: The Spread of ISIS | Geography Education | Scoop.it
With Tuesday's seizure of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria notched a major victory in its campaign to create a new country containing parts of what had part of both Syria and Iraq. On Wednesday, the insurgents continued their march south, taking control of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.


The story of ISIS's spread -- and its influence -- is one that begins in Syria, where the group has been waging a brutal insurgency against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and, increasingly, other more moderate and secular rebel groups. The map above depicts the areas of Syria under its control. The group's influence is bounded by the Free Syrian Army in the west, the Kurds in the north, and pockets of government influence.  Who is the ISIS/ISIL?


Tags: SyriaIraq, MiddleEast, conflict, political, geopolitics.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 6, 2014 3:06 PM

ISIS has demonstrated how geographies are ever changing and how disputes over borders are constantly occurring. ISIS is looking to reshape the political geography of the land from the Mediterranean to Iran's Zagros mountains into a caliphate. The movement of ISIS has been influenced by geography. The group is contained to transportation corridors because reaching into the countryside is difficult. Furthermore, the physical geography of Iraq and Syria has made ISIS an extremely powerful force. They have taken control of many of Iraq and Syria's oil fields. ISIS has also shifted population geographies causing mass displacement as they advance. In Syria 2.8 million people have fled, 200,000 have come to Iraq. ISIS is causing major shifts in the political, demographic, and economic geographies of Iraq and Syria.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, October 6, 2014 3:25 PM

ISIS has shown both in the past and more recently that it is far from a group of disorganized rebels and in reality is a competent and dangerous organization. Recent land grabs show that ISIS not only seeks to gain land mass but an economic base. This map shows the the strategic land ownership corresponds with oil fields throughout the area. ISIS' leadership is competent enough to know that in order to run a large Caliphate and support it's troops a viable source of income is needed.

 

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, October 6, 2014 3:29 PM

With the help of maps one can see how much of an impact ISIS has had on Syria and Iraq.  We can see where ISIS has taken over, where they have attacked and what areas they have their people around.  This gives people an idea of where they have been and where they may be going.  Another map shows what cities have been overtaken by ISIS.  This gives exact points where ISIS has terrorized the people to gain control.  Another map shows just Syria and the control that ISIS has in that country.  The fourth map is important to a larger portion of the world.  It has Iraq and the where ISIS has taken over and where the area of control is in reference to where oil fields are.  The last map refers to the people in Syria and where they have taken refuge to stay safe from ISIS.

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Ten Years After the Invasion of Iraq: The Human Cost

Seth Dixon's insight:

The effects of war can be staggering and far-reaching.  Often the costs are much higher than anticipated at the beginning.  Read this press release for more details on the recent findings regarding the actual costs of the Iraq War, which are estimated to have cost over 190,000 lives and $2.2 trillion. 


Tags: Iraq, conflict, K12, political, MiddleEast, war.

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Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 11, 2013 4:25 AM

The death of 190,000 people due to war is always a tragedy.  There is a positive side to this number, however.  The Iraq war cost 190,00 lives in ten years, an average of 19,000 deaths a year. In World War II, the Russians alone lost 9,000,000 people, in a much shorter amount of time.  We are no longer losing large chunks of our population in wars, due to new technology and combat strategies. 

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Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay

Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Learn more about the ethnic, religious and political powerplays in and around Iraq during a virtual tour of the region led by NBC’s Richard Engel.

 

This is an incredibly well-put together, video/slideshow about the complex geography of within Iraq that has lead to so many difficulties in the post-Saddam Hussein era.   The ethnic patterns, religious divisions, spatial arrangements of resources as well as the larger regional context all play roles in creating the a contentious political environment. 

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Crissy Borton's curator insight, December 11, 2012 8:33 PM

I enjoyed this video. I never really understood why these groups were fighting. It was an easy video to understand and I learned that the fighting is not just about religious but cultural differences as well. 

Stacey Jackson's curator insight, March 22, 2013 11:03 PM

Although I try to keep up with world events, Iraq has puzzled me. This was spectacularly helpful, although I still don't feel like I have the full picture. For instance, I understand that three ethnic groups were forced in to a new country, Iraq, after World War I and that the country has been in turmoil ever since. However, these ethnic groups were all a part of the Ottoman Empire before there was an Iraq, so why did the trouble start after the formation of Iraq?

 

These ethnic groups had their own provinces within the Ottoman Empire. I'm assuming these groups thought they'd establish their own separate nations after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but were not given the chance to decide for themselves since Iraq was a product of "European powers." If this is accurate, then European nations have a horrible track record when it comes to dictating foreign boundaries that lead to unrest abroad. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 12:55 PM

Iraq is a complicated country. The current differences and disparities in culture, ethnicity and resources has led to some harsh rivalry between people within the borders of the country. This shows how borders can be artificial and just because a map shows a region as one unit, it is not always the case. After the Ottoman Empire fell many groups of people were thrust together and this is why we see these divisions so clearly.

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Introducing ISIS

"The invasion of Iraq was supposed to turn the country into a democracy that posed no threat to the United States, or the rest of the world. Thirteen years later, Iraq has collapsed into three warring states. A third of the country is controlled by ISIS, who have also taken huge amounts of territory in Syria. VICE correspondent Ben Anderson gains exclusive access to the three front lines in Iraq, where Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish forces are fighting for their lives. Anderson visits with the Russian military forces in Syria, meets captured ISIS fighters in Kurdistan, and interviews US policymakers about how the situation in Iraq spun out of control."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Many young students are especially baffled at how a terrorist organization can seize control of large chunks of territory.  If you are looking for a good video introduction that explains how and why ISIS was able to gain power and than gain and maintain territory, this is it (it's classroom safe despite the source). 

 

Tags: Syria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics, Iraq, devolution, terrorism, ISISMiddle East.

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Mosul Dam key win for Islamic State

Mosul Dam key win for Islamic State | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Islamic State's capture of the Mosul dam gives it control over the water and electricity supply in northern Iraq."

Seth Dixon's insight:

There is a geography to insurgency.   This dam controls both the energy and water resources in the region, which gives the insurgents/rebels/terrorists greater local power.  On a related noted, this op-ed entitled, "How America Lost the Middle East" has plenty of foreign policy and geopolitical material worth discussing.  


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Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, October 30, 2014 10:00 PM

This is interesting, ISIS is not only using brute force as a scare tactic, but are also taking hold of natural resources as well.  In taking over the dam ISIS has control of not only a majority of Iraq's water supply but their power supply as well.  They are also threatening employees with loss of pay to do what they want.  Closing off some parts of the dam is preventing water to get to people who are in need.  If the dam was to get backed up too much it could have immediate failure creating a devastating flood wiping out areas of agriculture having the potential for mass civilian casualties.  ISIS is not just taking over everything that they can, but have a method to what they are doing.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 27, 2015 8:14 PM

As the director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Centre in Qatar said, "There's a method in their madness. By gaining control of the area ISIS can flood and destroy homes within the region. Furthermore, they can disrupt the flow of electricity and how the land is irrigated. All of this could cause a great deal of damage to the society. In this light the dam is a pretty important part of Iraq. The fact that ISIS Manipulated he land to their benefit it highly intelligent.  


However, if the dam was in the hand of the United States, the area still isn't completely safe. people would perceive it to be because ISIS would no longer be threatening to use it as an immediate weapon. However, the author noticed that the dam needs constant maintenance and is built on unstable soil. Both of which can cause flooding. In fact, the "worst case scenario" would cause far more damage than ISIS has with the dam. 


Clearly, purposefully using the resources of an area to damage a population is more chilling the a poorly made structure because malice involved. However even in the hands of the United States, the dam shows just how dangerous manipulating nature can be on a local population. 

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 4, 2015 5:21 PM

This will have an enormous impact on drought for drinking, agriculture purposes or even the opposite.  This strategy could be used to flood the lands ruining agriculture.

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Iraq's Current Devolution

"A radical fringe Islamic group names ISIS is fighting to establish a extremist Islamic state in Iraq and Syria...and beyond. They control eastern Syria, western Iraq, just took control of Iraq's 2nd largest city of Mosul and are advancing on the capital Baghdad.  In this podcast, the professor John Boyer outlines just a few of the contributing factors to why this significant event is taking place, the geographic/historic background of the state, and the consequences for the future of the region."

Seth Dixon's insight:

If you haven't yet discovered John Boyer, a.k.a. the Plaid Avenger,  I recommend exploring his site.  He has numerous resources for world regional geography and current global affairs.  His colorful persona is highly entertaining for college age-students as his class attracts over 3,000 students each semester (you can decide for yourself whether that personality works for you and your classroom).  This particular 'plaidcast' discussion focuses on Iraq's current devolution and possible total collapse. 


Tags: SyriaIraq, MiddleEast, conflict, political, geopoliticsborders, colonialism, devolution.

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Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, June 23, 2014 12:27 PM

unit 4

Michael Mazo's curator insight, October 6, 2014 3:04 PM

Iraq's position in regards to the militant groups has steadily affected the countries global and economic status in more ways than one. As these militant groups such as ISIS continue to grow then so will their territory and intensity of self-less acts. Not only are these groups a disease to the world but they affect the way our global economy works. ISIS controls oil fields and vast amounts of land in Iraq, Syria and other middle-eastern countries. In my opinion, America's decision to fire airstrikes onto these militant groups could be both good and bad. Good because it will decrease the amount of ISIS members but bad because it could be an incentive for ISIS to cause further damage and chaos in reference to revenge. At this pace, ISIS and other such groups will gain claimed territory in which will come at the cost of innocent lives of women and children. They must be stopped before issues get worse.

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Freshwater Stores Shrank in Tigris-Euphrates Basin

Freshwater Stores Shrank in Tigris-Euphrates Basin | Geography Education | Scoop.it
An arid region grew even drier between 2003 and 2009 due to human consumption of water for drinking and agriculture.
Seth Dixon's insight:

As drought conditions have hit the Middle East, growing populations are using more water per capita then ever.  See this on Google Earth with this KMZ file.


Tags: water, environment, consumption, resources, environment depend, Middle East, Iraq.

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Amy Marques's curator insight, April 24, 2014 12:52 PM

What's happening in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin is similar to what is happening to the Aral Sea. Freshwater Stores Shrank in just 4 years. Humans are drastically altering the landscape and if we don't start to find others ways of doing things and change the way in which we do agriculture and use our water, there could be a serious water shortage for millions of people.

James Hobson's curator insight, October 22, 2014 6:24 PM

(Southwest Asia topic 2)

The area known as the Cradle of Humanity is becoming less hospitable. Though natural climate change can be attributed to the dryer conditions, humans have made just as much of an impact. Increased water usage leads to less reserve. Impacts stretch further, however. Less water flow below the dam can lead to changes in sedimentation patterns and disrupt wildlife habitats, potentially causing harm to wildlife.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 4:19 PM

The middle east has lost a huge portion of its freshwater over the past decade. The two natural-color images above were acquired by the Landsat satellites and show the shrinking of the Qadisiyah Reservoir in Iraq between September 7, 2006 and September 15, 2009. The first graph shows the elevation of the water in that reservoir between January 2003 and December 2009. The second graph shows water storage from January 2003 to December 2009. Obtaining ground data information in the middle east can be difficult.The researchers calculated that about one-fifth of the water losses in their Tigris-Euphrates study region came from snowpack shrinking and soil drying up, partly in response to a 2007 drought.

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NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East

NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East | Geography Education | Scoop.it
A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.


"[This] data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws."


Tags: water, environment, consumption, resources, environment depend, Middle East, Iraq.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a perfect example of geospatial technologies can lead to a better understanding of how the Earth's physical systems are changing because of human geography.  Teaching geography is about showing how these systems are interconnected.   

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Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 19, 2014 9:24 AM

Water is a big issue in an arid area.  The fact that we can measure the amount of groundwater present in an area with a satellite is amazing to me.  The issue of water rights and control in this region will someday over take that of oil rights and use in my opinion.  Once people get used to free flowing water to use on demand it will cause problems politically when these sources of ground water inevitably dry up.