One of the little mentioned realities of conflicts in the Middle East and other third world areas, is the simple fact that a large part of the population under 25 is unemployed, broke, and like to blame someone else for their ills. For a well funded group who can play to these facts, it is easy to attract a willing cadre of youth who are only too happy to carry a gun (appealing to their macho instincts) and have something to do... especially if it can have the veneer of a cause.
This is why it's often very hard to get rid of militias who grow out of a conflict. Telling the members to go home all too often really means giving up their job and means of not only a livelihood but also a badge of self-respect.
For youths in the Middle East it is easy to blame their ills on the conspiracies they imagine the rich countries of the West are cooking up. US foreign policy, especially the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, our funding and support of Israel, our drones in Yemen and Pakistan and even our constant declaring Iran a "terrorist" state serve to support these conspiracy theories and reinforce the idea that we (the west) hate Muslims.
Muslims in the US you don't have to watch Fox News for very long to get the same impression.
US politicians always talk of jobs, jobs, jobs, as the fundamental issue we have to deal with. If we in the US struggle to grow the job base, imagine how bad it must be in the unstable countries of the third world. We complain when the employment is 7% but imagine it at 30-50% and among the youth, is some places even higher.
If you have guns, money and can dream up a cause there is a huge army waiting for you. Meanwhile there is an abundant supply of animosity to tap into, some well-deserved and some manufactured by those with an agenda that can use it to their advantage. If we create some smoke, believe me there are those that can make it look like a raging fire, especially to people who are conditioned to believe the worst.
There is no easy answer to the jobs dilemma as the world of technology has made the actual human worker less and less relevant. This will increasingly become the driving force behind more and more "revolutions" and separatist activities large and small. Unless we learn how to mitigate this dilemma it will consume us for years to come. Perhaps we should give out free video games so the youth can occupy themselves harmlessly... anything to keep them off the streets where they are likely to cause trouble.
*Cannon fodder is an informal, derogatory term for combatants who are regarded or treated as expendable in the face of enemy fire. The term is generally used in situations where combatants are forced to deliberately fight against hopeless odds (with the foreknowledge that they will suffer extremely high casualties) in an effort to achieve a strategic goal; an example is the trench warfare of World War I. The term may also be used (somewhat pejoratively) to differentiate infantry from other forces (such as artillery, air force or the navy), or to distinguish expendable low-grade or inexperienced combatants from supposedly more-valuable veterans.