Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2015

The Continuing Cost of the Iraq War: The Spread of Jihadi Groups Throughout the Region

Jessica Stern

February 2014

Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


The US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, initiated in part to retaliate against Al Qaeda for the 9/11 strikes, had the effect of inspiring the creation of new Al Qaeda franchises. One such group is The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, formed as the Iraqi Al Qaeda affiliates spread into Syria. The formation of ISIS and the other Jihadi groups active in Syria and now spreading elsewhere through the region, together responsible for thousands of deaths, is one of the many costs of the Iraq war. These new groups - which formed and trained during the US occupation of Iraq - are impeding US foreign policy and preventing donor nations from providing humanitarian relief.