In 2003, the US-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein. 11 years and four months later, it looks an al Qaeda affiliate called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is no longer a ‘state’ in name only. It controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria. And as of today, that includes Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

This map was created by Laris Karklis of the Washington Post. It was appended to an article by Liz Sly about the rise of ISIS, who writes, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) effectively governs a nation-size tract of territory that stretches from the eastern edge of the Syrian city of Aleppo to Fallujah in western Iraq – and now also includes the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.” 

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Where did this group come from? What are their goals, and what, if anything, can be done to stop them?

I caught up with Douglas Ollivant of the New America Foundation a few months ago for the Podcast. He was an official in the Bush and Obama administrations responsible for helping to set Iraq policy. He’s written extensively on ISIS. In the interview he gives context for the rise of ISIS, Iraq’s violent death spiral, and how it all relates to Syria.

If you want to understand what’s happened in Mosul today and the greater threat it poses to the region have a listen.

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