Simple Guide to War in the Middle East

I borrowed this pictorial from Slate, which oversimplifies the warring factions in the Middle East.

The summary here is that there are no good guys and bad guys here, but there is a range of conflicting beliefs and desired outcomes that are at odds with one another.

If this summary suffices, feel free to stop here. I encourage all three of you readers to use this as a starting point that will lead you to more thorough explanations of peace in the Middle East, or lack thereof. For more details, read on.

The Department of Defense and the Department of State diverge in their assessments and definitions of terrorists in the Middle East. Here are the ~20 foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) in the AF/PAK region:

  1. Haqqani network
  2. Harakat-Ul-Jihadi-Islami (HUJ/I)
  3. Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
  4. Hizbul Mujahideen in the Indian Subcontinent
  5. Indian Mujahideen
  6. Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
  7. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
  8. ISIL Khorasan
  9. Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) (JEM)
  10. Jundullah
  11. Lashkar-e Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) (LET)
  12. Lashkar i Jhangvi
  13. al-Qa’ida
  14. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent
  15. Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP)
  16. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar
  17. Jamaat-ud-Dawa al-Quran
  18. Tariq Gidar Group
  19. East Turkistan Islamic Movement
  20. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
  21. Commander Nazir Group

Some FTOs are classified as operating outside AF/PAK proper, but are closely associated with the region:

  1. Kongra-Gel (formerly Kurdistan Workers’ Party) (KGK)
  2. Al-Nusra Front
  3. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq aka Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (QJBR))

Throw in remnants of FTOs in Iraq:

  1. Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions
  2. Kata’ib Hezbollah
  3. Abdullah Azzam Brigades
  4. Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN)

Just for kicks, throw in Iran:

  1. Jundallah (People’s Resistance Movement of Iran, or PRMI) (Iran)
  2. the former Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) have dissolved into other factions

Note: the State Department uses the 2001 Patriot Act for legal authority to designate FTOs: it must be a foreign organization, the organization must engage in terrorist activity (Section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965/ 8 USC 1182 (a)(3)(B)) et al, and the activity must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or national security.

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