“Why the Islamic State Is Losing, and Why It Still Hopes to Win”

I have just published a new paper on the war against the so-called Islamic State over at The Century Foundation, arguing that the group is now clearly losing the war on the ground in Syria and Iraq. But the tide may turn, depending on what happens in the Syrian Civil War, among the rival Kurdish factions in northern Iraq, and with the increasingly tense situation in Baghdad. The introduction is below and you’ll find the full thing here. — Aron Lund

Islamic State FlagThe Sunni extremist group known as Islamic State (IS, also known by an earlier acronym, ISIS) is taking a terrible beating. In the past few days, it has lost territory in both Syria and Iraq. Syrian Kurds have attacked it east of Aleppo and north of Raqqa City, while it is battling Sunni Arab rivals north of Aleppo. The Syrian army of President Bashar al-Assad is pressing into the Raqqa Governorate and taking ground in the deserts east of Palmyra. In Iraq, other Kurdish groups have struck east of Mosul, while an alliance of Shia militias and the Iraqi army is moving into its stronghold in Fallujah. Further afield, the jihadis are being purged from the Libyan city of Sirte.

Islamic State’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is nowhere to be seen or heard as his fighters face attacks on all fronts. According to the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition, the jihadi group has now lost half of the area it controlled in Iraq at its peak in late 2014 and a fifth of its territory in Syria. Revenues from oil and other assets are reportedly down by a third and a U.S. government official recently claimed the coalition has “cut off entirely their revenue that’s coming from the outside.” The coalition also says that the total number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria has dropped from a peak of around 31,000 in December 2014 to between 19,000 and 25,000 today, and the influx of foreign jihadis has allegedly been reduced by three-quarters.

Islamic State has not scored a major victory on the battlefield in more than a year, and its ability to govern efficiently is withering. People with their ear to the ground in Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa speak of frail governance and worsening repression, since the group can no longer afford to buy civil peace. If popular discontent continues to grow, a weakening Islamic State could face internal dissent and tribal uprisings.

Still, the decline of Islamic State is certainly not irreversible and its enemies could be in for rough surprises ahead. In some areas, the forces confronting Islamic State are even more dysfunctional than the group itself, held together only by foreign influence and the fact that they face a common enemy. Now, with Islamic State’s influence finally receding, that brittle unity is being tested. Syria has long been torn asunder by civil war and regional rivalries, while Iraq suffers from a worsening political paralysis. Islamic State is weaker than at any point since it conquered Mosul two years ago, but thanks to the chronic disorder among its enemies, it may still be able to regroup and reclaim the initiative.

For more, read the full report.

Comments (104)

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101. Tara said:


Iran mullahs are hiding behind Shiism to recruit the faithful to kill and mayhem and destabilize almost every other Arab country. Iran also uses anti Zionism propaganda to give their effort an emotional and heroic charge that there final goal is the destruction of the powerful evil historical enemy , the Jews . Their dream is indeed from Nile to Euphrates and some more. I do not believe this is the Zionist dream anymore . They brainwash Shias across the universe in Afghanistan , Pakistan , Uzbek and every other Stan to liberate Jerusalem through defending some dead people tombs and create tombs as they go. There are no dead people tombs in Aleppo or idleb etc etc. Israel wants peace within its territory . Iran has emperislistic dream and every day, Iran is inching towards achieving it and Obama unfortunately made all possible.

Arab needs to cut their loss, get into mutual understanding with Israel in regard to a palestian state and unite effort with the Jews to stop the real monster in this world .: the Persian empire.

And this one to Amir, Islam needs to be reinterpretEd so it ceases to become a milieu for infestation of Sunnis made into Isis and Qaeda etc etc. It really needs an overhaul in its teaching and interpretation of Quraan and destroying of all prior ancient interpretation books as well as the madrasa system. The organized religion of Islam needs a revolution otherwise Arabs and Muslims will remain under civilized . Muslim needs to understand the difference between religion and faith in my opinion and get rid of everything that is nonsensical including the 72 women awaiting them in heaven to have sex when they die in Jihad, etc etc

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July 3rd, 2016, 10:13 am


102. Akbar Palace said:

Guys, my response is on the newest thread so I don’t have to scroll so much!

Now we’re discussing Christian, Pro-Assad mulitias. Zzz.

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July 3rd, 2016, 10:37 am


103. ALAN said:

The jewish scholar explains why Zionism and Judaism are not necessarily the same thing and why he believes that Israel as a state is not legitimate

“Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.”– David Ben Gurion, quoted on pp 91-2 of Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle.
“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours…Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”– Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.

ٍSo it all started far from being in the hall of the Knesset.Who are calling for the removal of Israel are Jewish believers primarily.

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July 3rd, 2016, 1:42 pm


104. ALAN said:

Simohurtta What’s going on there
Putin Warns Finland Against Joining NATO, Says Moscow Would Shift Troops.
“If Finland enters NATO, that means that Finnish soldiers become part of the military infrastructure of NATO, which will in an instant find itself on the borders of Russia”

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July 3rd, 2016, 5:02 pm


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