Must-know story: Why turmoil in Iraq is affecting energy stocks

The onslaught of ISIS

A militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, or ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has been expanding its reach for months in Iraq and Syria in pursuit of its goal to create an Islamic state. The organization has gained a fair amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria. The group, which was a former ally of the al Qaeda militant group, formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq.

A sectarian divide

The recent insurgency in Iraq stems from its division into two rival Muslim sects—the Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims.

Must-know story: Why turmoil in Iraq is affecting energy stocks

The U.S-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki (the prime minister of Iraq), along with the majority of Iraqis, are Shia Muslims. The ISIS group on the other hand, are Sunni. This rivalry has accelerated since the Iraq Civil War in 2004.

This series will focus on how this sectarian divide is the root of the current turbulence in Iraq and its implications on domestic oil producers such as Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Chevron Corporation (CVX), ConocoPhillips (COP), and Anadarko Petroleum (APC). Note that these companies are parts of the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE).