Setting the Stage for ISIL

In May 2015, Research Analysts Nina Sabarre and Alicia Boyd presented a poster titled, “Crisis in Iraq: A View from the Ground” at the 2015 American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conference.

Over the past year, the Sunni militant movement known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) has taken control of territory in Iraq and Syria in an attempt to establish a transnational caliphate. In June 2014, ISIL seized an opportunity provided by the Iraqi Army’s disintegration to take over Mosul and other areas of northern Iraq. The poster presentation uses survey data from July 2012 to May 2014 to investigate how the divided political climate in Iraq set the stage for ISIL.

The Iraq Futures data show that the dissatisfaction of the Sunni Arab population presented an opportunity that ISIL leveraged to consolidate its presence in Iraq. The data also show that, in spite of divisions between ethno-sectarian groups, Iraqis do share commons concerns. In order to remedy the conditions that fostered ISIL’s rise, the Iraqi government must avoid exclusive, sectarian policies and focus on good governance through economic growth and the reduction of corruption.

Download the full paper here.