Wednesday, December 09, 2015


By Ryan Sorba

Those wanting to understand why Barack Obama calls ISIS "ISIL" are in for some controversy. 

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria because the group's territory straddles the border between the two countries, as can be seen in the following photo. 

The Red is ISIS Controlled Territory

"ISIL" stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the "Levant." The Levant is the historic name given to the entire region east of the Mediterranean, from Egypt, east to Iran and Turkey.

As you can see, "the Levant" includes Israel. 

Many are now claiming that Obama has been referring to ISIS as ISIL to cryptically insult Israel and lend the terrorists tacit consent for their plan for Middle East domination.

Incorrectly, the Associated Press has claimed that ISIS was switched to ISIL because, 
In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.
The standard English term for this broad territory is “the Levant.” Therefore, AP’s translation of the group’s name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
This justification given by the Associated Press however is incorrect.  
In a smart blog post, Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan notes the distinction between "al-Sham" and "Bilad al-Sham"; the former is often used to signify Syria or Damascus, the latter the wider Levant. 
ISIS used "al-Sham" not Bilad al-Sham. Thus, Obama's use of "ISIL" is not even accurate, ISIS is.
Hassan Hassan makes another point about the term "the Levant," which is now a dated and historical term. He notes that it is the equivalent of calling Iraq, "Mesopotamia." Thus, the use of the term "Levant" seems suspicious. Hassan: 
If we concede again that "al-Sham" means not only Syria, then there is a name for that: Greater Syria. When we use the older term "Levant", that should be used alongside the older name "Mesopotamia" for Iraq. When you use modern "Iraq", use the modern term "Greater Syria" along with it — and in that case, it's the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (still ISIS).
When Obama refers to ISIS as ISIL then, it is both a factual and a political mistake. Not only is it an incorrect translation and a dated historical term like "Mesopotamia," but also because "the Levant" specifically includes Israel. 

Politically, it almost makes Barack Obama sound as though he is Morse coding a message to Israel and Muslims in the middle-east that he is broadening and normalizing the expectations of "ISIL."  

In other words, politically, from the point of view of Isreal, it could sound as if Obama is calling ISIS, The Islamic State of Iraq and Israel! (as well as the rest of the Middle East of course)

It would be the same for Americans if Obama began to call ISIS, ISA -The Islamic State of America.  

Or, The Islamic State of San Bernardino and Redlands. 

It doesn't sound very good to hear your own hometown referred to as "The Islamic State of..." while you are being threatened and attacked by Islamic terrorists.

In addition, as argued by many in France, even referring to the group as the "Islamic State" of anything gives them too much credibility. They are a terrorist organization. 

The name "ISIL" creates a winning mentality, not only because "the Levant" gives them more territory than they could ever procure but because it grants the perception of "statehood." 

This perceived legitimacy formalizes the group among their captives and creates a winning mentality which helps them recruit, and further terrorize.  

If Barack Obama wants to be accurate he ought to call them "DAIISH," the Arabic shorthand for their actual name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham.

ISIS finds the acronym DAIISH offensive however because it sounds like the "Daes" ("one who crushes something underfoot") and Dahes ("one who sows discord").

Whatever ISIS is called, Obama should refuse to call them by any name that lends them even so much as the illusion of credibility regarding either statehood or territory.  

I'll leave you with what Rush Limbaugh recently had this to say about the issue: 
 "Oh, and, by the way, just to reiterate something: ISIS versus ISIL. The Levant, includes Israel, includes much of the eastern Mediterranean shoreline. By using the term "ISIL," it is meant to delegitimize Israel. It is meant to include Israel in the Levant, which would make it Palestine. I'm telling you, there's a reason Obama does this, and his audience is not us.

He's calling it ISIL for a foreign audience, not us. And he's the only one doing it. Everybody calls it ISIS. He calls it ISIL. The media tries to tell you there's really no difference, it's the same. There's a huge difference. ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, that's two countries. ISIL, Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, which is the whole region, but more importantly, it includes Israel in the Levant and Israel ought not be there. They don't have a right to be there. Levant is us, it's not them. That's Palestine, is what Levant means. Obama is telling them, Don't doubt me."

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