The Islamists’ blitzkrieg in northern Iraq appears to have caught the international community by surprise. However, one should neither attribute this success to one single group, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), nor consider it totally unexpected. ISIS has long created a support base for itself in Mosul, and it was not the only organization — and perhaps not even the main one — to take over the city at lightning speed. Among six major groups, the Mujahideen Army especially stands out, and there is talk of the important role played by the Naqshbandiya group that has great influence among the Kurds and Turkmen. I doubt, however, that Baathists and former Iraqi military personnel played an equally significant role in the capture of part of the country by the terrorists.
Of course, it is not uncommon to find a "marriage of convenience" in politics. Yet, the civilizational positions of radical Islamic terrorists — who are "frozen in time" and have surpassed al-Qaeda in cruelty with their reprisals against those who do not accept their values — are irreconcilable with those of the secular nationalists, even if they have experienced some sort of re-Islamization in the opposition underground. And it is very convenient to blame it all on the Iraqi Baathists, including the Baathist regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the Syrian opposition accused of supporting Islamic terrorists even before ISIS’ offensive. Regardless, a religious platform such as the Naqshbandiya, with its Sufi undertones, can hardly be acceptable for ISIS extremists. If they are at war with Jabhat al-Nusra, then they would be at each other’s throats even more with the Naqshbandis.