Al-Qaeda Carving Out a State in Western Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq Borders Syria's Kurdistan

Violence is on the rise region-wide, and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has its hands in much of it. The group’s territorial possessions in Syria may be just the beginning, however, as they are now looking to establish another “state” in Iraq.

A signpost in Iraq’s western desert dubs the territory the “Islamic State of Iraq,” and the territory’s relatively little tie to the Maliki government has them convinced that’s a claim they can enforce.

With al-Qaeda increasingly in control of northwestern Syria, the establishment on a second state in western Iraq presents a major challenge for both the Maliki government and the Syrian Kurds.

Syrian Kurdistan ousted AQI from their territory in a series of decisive victories, but keeping them out looks to be a big challenge going forward, and dramatically moreso if they border Kurdistan and both sides. This is likely to force Iraqi Kurdistan’s hand in aiding them and further the regionalization of the war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.