ISIS Is Making Everyone in the Middle East Extremely Nervous

03 Jan 2014, Syria --- Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor
Photo: Yaser Al-Khodor/Reuters/Corbis

If you’re a fearless militant group and/or political party, like, say, Hezbollah, there aren’t very many things that scare the bejesus out of you. So what does it mean when the militant group — and some other not-super-friendly actors in the Middle East — say they’re plenty scared of ISIS?

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah referred to the group as a “monster” in remarks to a Lebanese newspaper, and said that it “is growing and getting bigger.”

Without any formal government backing, ISIS has somehow managed to grab — and hold on to — large swaths of both Syria and Iraq. The group’s appeal seems to span national boundaries, and has won it volunteer fighters from across the region and the world.

Of course, for Hezbollah, the fear may partly be a matter of bruised ego. The Lebanon-based militant group was a vocal backer of struggling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and ISIS’s triumph over significant parts of Syria is a further example of just how badly Assad has failed. But in a more real way, Hezbollah is vocalizing something everyone in Beirut is too afraid to say: There’s no way ISIS will avoid Lebanon forever. 

Indeed, Vice’s revealing inside look at the Islamic State shows that ISIS militants were none-too-shy about their plans: Iran and other countries are on the short list for a future invasion. In fact, the militants already had a confrontation with Iranian guards in June, and Iran’s Shi’ite majority is a logical target. 

Nasrallah noted in his interview that most Sunni countries won’t meet ISIS’s religious purity standards. The Times reports that even Saudi Arabia — a Sunni monarchy — is more than a little worried. The Gulf oil superpower has apparently moved 30,000 soldiers to bulk up its border with Iraq. No word on what Jordan, a tiny country about the size of ISIS-controlled territory, is doing to protect itself. 

Yet we can’t help but think this all is a little teeny-weeny bit Saudi Arabia’s own fault. Hey, King Abdullah, remember when you sent a bunch of international death-row inmates to fight Assad in Syria? Well, we wonder where they are now 

ISIS Is Making Middle East Superpowers Nervous