Oh, dear! Just when you thought the Iraq problem was solved because you haven't heard about it for a while, everything's back to murders, chaos, and terror. What happened?
In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq because of its alleged connections to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. At the time Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator, ruled the country. He was part of the Sunni minority and suppressed the Shia majority. Iraq was conquered fairly quickly, but the U.S. had no plan for the country. The until-then-suppressed Shia majority took over and began oppressing the Sunnis because suppressing other faiths proven to be such a good idea.
Unsurprisingly, a Sunni rebel uprising began, and terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda trickled into Iraq, and local forces, often former Sunni military, began fighting the U.S. troops and the newly-formed Iraqi state, peaking in a bloody civil war in 2006. Since then, people in Iraq have basically been segregated by religion.
So in a tragic irony of history, the U.S. invasion led to the formation of the very terrorists the U.S. wanted to eliminate in the first place, because Iraq was now the perfect training ground for terrorism.
To understand this complicated conflict better, we need to understand the relationship between the two main branches of the Muslim faith: Shia and Sunni Islam. Sunnis make up about 80% of the Muslim world, and Shia about 20%. And the hardliners on both sides don't like each other very much.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two most powerful players in the game of faiths. They both have no separation of state and religion, domestic problems, and a lot of oil money, and they support groups that fight the other religious orientation. And one of those terror organizations supported by Saudi Arabia was Islamic state in Iraq, or ISI for short.
In 2010, the Arab Spring happened and changed the whole situation in the Middle East. In Syria, dictator Bashar al-Assad didn't think much of resigning and started a gruesome civil war against his own people. The longer the war went on, the more foreign groups joined the fight, most of them for religious reasons and with a goal of building an Islamic state in the region.
在2010年，阿拉伯之春爆发，并改变了中东整个局势。在叙利亚，独裁者 Bashar al-Assad(叙国总统)并不想辞职，并发起一场对抗他自己人民的可怕内战。战争持续越久、越多外国组织加入战争，他们大部分是为了宗教因素，并带着于此区域建立伊斯兰政府的目标。
And one of them was the infamous ISI, which now became the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. They had fought in Iraq for years and had thousands of well-trained and fanatic soldiers. They already quasi-controlled parts of northern Iraq and were very determined to build their religious state. And they changed the game in Syria like no one expected.
他们之一就是恶名昭彰的 ISI，那现在成为伊拉克和叙利亚的伊斯兰政府，或称之为 ISIS。他们已在伊拉克战争多年，并有数千名训练有素且狂热的士兵。他们已经几乎控制了部分伊拉克北部，且十分坚持要建立他们的宗教政府。他们出乎大众意料改变了在叙利亚的局势。
ISIS was so unbelievably violent and radical that soon there was a war with almost every other faction of the Syrian rebel armies. They attacked and killed members of other Muslim terrorist groups. In the territories they controlled they built Islamic state with rules so strict that even the hardliners of Al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia were shocked and withdrew their support.
ISIS has been accused of responsibility for multiple massacres against civilians, countless suicide bombings, the hostage taking of women and children, the executions of their prisoners, and beheadings—all kinds of medieval horrors we would rather not to have to illustrate. And this lovely gathering of human beings recently decided it was time to take more territory in Iraq.
Since the U.S. left Iraq, the Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has monopolized power and discriminated against Sunnis wherever possible. The government of Iraq is widely regarded as being corrupt, incapable, and it's certainly hated by a large part of its citizens.
自美国离开伊拉克后，什叶派的总理 Nouri al-Maliki 已经独揽权力并竭尽所能四处排挤逊尼派。伊拉克政府被广为认为贪腐、无能，且绝对受其大部分国民所痛恨。
The Iraqi army consisting of about 300,000 soldiers was created using 25 billion U.S. dollars in tax money, but it's not loyal to its government and has been withdrawing or completely disbanding, giving up city after city, because ISIS has announced that everyone who opposes them will be killed.
由大约三十万名士兵所组成的伊拉克军队，是从税金中花费两百五十亿美金所打造，但它对其政府并不忠诚，且已经撤退、或是完全解散，一个城市接着一个城市投降，因为 ISIS 已经宣布所有反对他们的人都将被杀害。
They have proven they mean business. By June, 2014, they'd conquered the big chunk of Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. They've stolen hundreds of millions from captured banks, making them the richest terror organization on earth. And they are constantly working on establishing a super medieval religious state.
Iran and the U.S. are even considering working together to fight them. That's how gruesome the situation is. Events in Iraq show again that exploiting the people you've defeated in the war, denying them power, and living in a stake in the rebuilding of the country is just sowing the seeds of the next bat of violence.
Somehow, we have to break the circle.