How can we understand the complex underlying causes of the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria? Did the United States create a “vacuum” in the Middle East that allowed ISIS to come to power? To what extent if true, is this argument a simplification? This thesis will argue that there were in fact multiple variables that led to the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. From a historical aspect, it will examine the regimes within two the countries, analyzing the complex nature of each. This will explain the oppression that many faced. This thesis will also examine the political chaos that dates back decades. The ethnic divide within Syria and Iraq will also be discussed. Analyzing these complex factors will show how ISIS came to power in the Middle East.


rise of ISIS; foreign policy; history of Middle East

Document Type


Year of Completion



Michael Soupios

Academic Department

Political Science