January 8, 2014 | Quoted by Sharona Schwartz, The Blaze
Why You Need to Care About the Name of the Al–Qaeda Group That Just Gained Strength in Iran
William Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” War-torn Syria and Iraq are about as far from Shakespeare’s England as one might imagine, but even there it’s worth trying to understand the significance of one particular name.
That is, the name of the Al-Qaeda-linked group trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad and establish an Islamic state both in Syria and Iraq. Is the group named “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”? Or the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”? ISIS or ISIL? Like other media, at TheBlaze we too have been split on the issue. Even this writer has used both in various stories.
We asked Syria-watchers what they thought. And contrary to Juliet’s assertion that names don’t matter, it turns out the jihadi group’s name in Arabic reveals a lot about its ambitions.
Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies voted for using the reference “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” telling TheBlaze, “ISIL makes the most sense, since al-Sham is not an English word. The Levant, however arcane, does the job.”
Schanzer says that the Al-Qaeda affiliate’s chosen name “is a clear indication of the group’s global aspirations, which we now see in its attacks in Lebanon and its logistical operations in Iraq. It makes one wonder how long we have until its reach is seen in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.”