Analysis

Terror Turns Iraq Into Ground Zero of Middle East Implosion
Iraqi government forces liberate areas of the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, that had been seized and held by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)
June 12, 2014
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
Having split with al-Qaeda earlier in the year, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has now eclipsed Ayman al-Zawahiri as the principal Sunni jihadist warlord in the Middle East.

FLASHBACK: Maliki's Sunni Purge Invites al-Qaeda Backlash

Z
awahiri continues to direct al-Qaeda’s far-flung forces in Yemen, Somalia, the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, but Baghdadi accuses al-Qaeda of being insufficiently jihadist and fundamentalist, and is leading by example.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which he leads, seized control of Iraq’s western Anbar province months ago, defeated its Syrian rival the al-Nusra Front, and has now conquered the northern non-Kurdish region of Iraq with this week’s surprising assaults on the cities of Mosul and Tikrit.
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