UCF speaker discusses power of ISIS
Of the 3 million registered refugees around the world, the Turkish government has accounted 1.6 million from Syria, said Dr. Isa Afacan, who spoke at UCF Thursday about the crisis and recent developments occurring in Turkey and the Middle East.
Afacan spoke in the Harris Corporation Engineering Center at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. Afacan is the assistant professor of international relations at Turgut Ozal University in Ankara, Turkey, and has been an active member in international relations since his schooling at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, where he earned his Ph.D. in international and public affairs.
"As the fighting is getting closer, maybe too close for comfort, Turkey is becoming an even more significant role," said Dr. Houman Sadri, about the recent role Turkey plays in the politics of Asia and Europe. Sadri is an associate professor in the political science department.
Afacan said that based on a study done in Turkey this year, of the 126 opposition groups discovered in the Middle East, "Isis has proved itself as the most resilient, most affective and most brutal one." Afacan broke down their success into three important dynamics.
The first dynamic he discussed was their networking capacity.
"They are successful in communicating with a large group of people and they spread the word of their brutality through social networking sites," he said.
Because of their voice on the Internet and through various social media sites, people all over the world are aware of their presence as an opposition group. An example of this is the beheading of former UCF student and American journalist Steven Sotloff and many others killed by ISIS.
The second dynamic Afacan mentioned was their mobilization capacity.
"There are an estimated 32,000 ISIS members in 80 different countries across the world," Afacan said.
In order to finance their endeavors, ISIS has captured oil wells in Syria and Iraq, collecting about $1 million per day from oil smuggling. They also receive money as ransom, accumulating approximately $55 million as a result of the militants they have captured, Afacan said.
Although audience member Shane Welch, a junior information technology major, was previously aware of the vast sums of money ISIS was getting from kidnapping and ransoming foreigners in their territory, he was unaware it was happening to the extent that it is.
"His discussion of the breakdown of citizenship in places like Syria and Iraq was intriguing," Welch said. "The idea that populations are increasingly replacing their national identities with their tribal, ethnic, and sectarian affiliations can only lead to a vast revision of the current political make-up of the Middle East."
The third dynamic Afacan noted is that due to the state collapse, which has affected the stability of various nations, terrorist groups have become highly pragmatic. ISIS militants declared that they have more authority than al Qaeda, and they no longer accept and affiliate themselves with this prestigious opposition group. In recent months, ISIS has referred to themselves as superior, and al Qaeda refers to ISIS as the bad guys, Afacan said.
Afacan has been teaching from the time he was a Ph.D. student, and has published various reviews and articles based on the issues occurring in the Middle East. Afacan has traveled the country spreading the word about the Arab Spring and the State Collapse in the Middle East through his "Lets Talk Turkey" speeches.