FSI scholars call advances of Islamic militants in Iraq stunning

Karl Eikenberry 
Photo Credit: Rod Searcey

President Barack Obama has announced he will send several hundred troops to help secure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as militants aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - known as ISIS - take neighborhoods in Baquba, only 44 miles from the Iraqi capital.

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security, is interviewed by the Australian Broadcast Corporation. He says the advances by Islamic militants in Iraq in the last week "have been absolutely stunning." The retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen., however, thinks the ISIS advancement will end quickly. "The bigger worry that we have though is ISIS crossing over to the Iraqi and the Syrian frontier and the possibility of them establishing a sanctuary for international terrorists," Eikenberry says.

You can watch Eikenberry's interview here. and ready an interview in The Australian here.


Martha Crenshaw 
Photo Credit: Rod Searcey

Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at CISAC and its parent organization, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, is one of the world's leading experts on terrorism. She joined a panel on the public radio program KQED Forum to discuss the political situation and what the militants envision for an Islamic state.

"The ISIS is a group that is even more radical than al-Qaida itself," Crenshaw says. 
"Syria provided a launching board for them, which allowed them to become sort of a caliphate linking Syria and Iraq."

Crenshaw estimates there are between 5,000 to 6,000 members of the ISIS fighting in Iraq and that new recruits are coming in all the time. "But the source of their strength is not merely in numbers," she says. They have gained strength through discipline and communicating what an Islamic state would look like.

Listen to KQED panel discussion here.


Arash Aramesh, a national security analyst at Stanford Law School, discusses the crisis through the prism of Iran on Al Jazeera English.