Why does Obama keep using the acronym ISIL?

On June 13, 2014, President Obama carefully SPELLED OUT the acronym ISIL as “EYE ESS EYE ELL”, but then said, “a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria.”

June 13, 2014 remarks by Obama: See first 30 seconds of video

Why is that weird? Because it is the more common acronym – ISIS – that stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIL stands for Islamic State in Levant.

I don’t think his insistence on ISIL is a mistake. With only a single exception on August 9, Obama has used “ISIL” in every statement he’s made this summer, even while reporters asking him questions referred to the group as “ISIS.”

2014_09 Obama uses ISIL

Is his choice significant? I don’t know. Maybe ISIL is just what his intell wonks use. Or maybe he’s broadcasting a message of support for the destruction of Israel. I lean to the latter explanation, because I have not forgotten these two official White House photos. But I could be totally off base.

2009_06 10 Using the Resolute Desk to dis Israel

2012_03 19 BHO polite to Palestinian Authority Prez



Filed under Barack Obama, ISIS, Islam, Israel, Middle East

4 responses to “Why does Obama keep using the acronym ISIL?

  1. Very perceptive, Chrissy. I also strongly sense that this is no accident. Also, why do the State Dept Spox continue to insist that they know what ISIL is about better than ISIL does themselves? Heh. I’ll leave that up to your imagination. 😉


    • chrissythehyphenated

      I can’t take credit for the idea. It popped up in my Facebook feed. I didn’t like the presentation … a tad too conspiracy theory tinfoil hat in tone, plus zero documentation. But I had noticed myself he uses ISIL while everyone else uses ISIS, so I pursued it.


  2. Ting

    You may be right. But I also think it is political, to divert attention from what is still a bit fresh in people’s minds, his total failure in Syria and Libya. People understand “Syria” better than the “Levant” and the administration, which is nothing if not political, doesn’t want people’s minds to go there.

    But those shoes on the desk, in the forefront of the shot, really do make one wonder. The insult aside, it looks like he is trying to be the tough guy.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      I remember when the White House published that photo. The insult was totally NOT lost on the Middle East. Israelis were OUTRAGED; their enemies CROWED.