Secondly, the violence and brutality by ISIS towards the
communities under there rule sapped their support base. One reason for their
rapid expansion was that Sunni tribals and other power brokers in Iraq and Syria saw significant advantages in
accepting their authority. Its rule brought relatively secure, and rude form of
justice, and defence against perceived Shia regime oppression. And also
guaranteed their own survival.
But in 2015, with the weakening ISIS was unable to offer
anything other than violence, the defections also started. A collective
convincing to restore the military, political and technological superiority
over the west which was enjoyed by Islamic powers centuries ago or the convictions
such as end times are near, proved insufficient to convince communities and
their leaders to fight and die for the cause of ISIS. At the very end, the
hospitals and stadiums in Raqqa were defended by foreign ISIS fighters as
remaining Syrian and Iraqi millitants had surrendered days before to the allied
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Thirdly, they begin taking on the west. This was a very conscious
decision, and part of the movement, and was not taken in self-defence. The attackers
were dispatched by ISIS to Europe in early 2014, even before the US led
coalition began airstrikes over them. The combination of western power and
funding for local forces repeatedly demoralised them.
In Iraq and Syria, there is significant differences among the
anti-ISIS fighters. There is high chance that land encompassing Iraq and Syria
would be likely to experience the hatreds of Cold War in the wake of the fall
of the ISIS. The fall of the caliphate is more likely to lead to a new level of
fighting over the future of Iraq and Syria and, more over the dispensation
of the region as a whole.
The war against ISIS is like ‘nesting doll’ from hell. The
campaign against the caliphate is likely to replacing Syrian civil war and the
Iraqi federal conflict. These were in turn nested for a larger confrontation
between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And an even larger competition for influence
between the US and Russia.
The costs there have been huge. There is already huge loss of
life and the destruction of ancient cities in both countries. Also there is
uptick in ISIS attacks abroad. Most importantly,
Iraq remains fragile, though the Kurds have freeze their independence vote. Syria is no close to an end to its civil war, even after
rounds of peace talks are being happened. Human rights violations by the Assad
regime is still continued, though the trials have begin in
Europe to hold those responsible for those human rights violations.
Meanwhile humanitarian crisis has still not come to an end. Some 270,000 people who
fled the fighting in Raqqa. Many of them are still in need of help, and refugee
camps are bursting. Most of the families have no homes to return and thousands
of civilians are displaced. Many are plagued by nightmares after witnessing
horrific violence and need extensive psychological support.
Implications and discussions
The ISIS territorial setbacks
have introduced some new questions about the future of not just Iraq and Syria
but the whole Middle East. The ISIS has been clearly defeated and there is
increased talk about filling the vacuum left by it. Also the threat of ISIS remains
far from being end completely. Besides many ISIS cells around the
world and there continued online presence, fighters from the terror group
have spread through the region and threatened to return. Many of them
foreign born, have smuggled themselves across the border and can commit terror
attacks around the world.
As we move forward to see what could be the major actions in
the future let’s have a brief look on how ISIS gained ground:
Ø It exploited the Sunni
resentment against Shias.
Saddam Hussein had led a secular government in Iraq
but that too was dominated by the members of Sunni minority and he repressed the
opposition. When Saddam was ousted out of power, it went to the majority Shias.
There was an increased perception among Sunnis that they were being persecuted
and excluded from power. Al Qaeda in Iraq recruited Sunni fighters for its
cause, trying to establish a Sunni Islamist control in the country.
Ø AQI rebranded themselves then largely defeated in
2009. After killing of Zarqawi in
a US airstrike in 2006, Abu Ayyub al Masri took over the leadership of the
group and announced the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). By
2006, they were controlling much of western Iraq and particularly Anbar
province. But thereafter in 2008, after a surge in US troops, and with the help
of Sunni tribes who were against the Al Qaeda, defeated the group in Iraq and
forced them to flee.
Ø After the killing of Masri in 2010, they picked up
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as their new leader. Baghdadi took over the group, when civil was war
kicked off in Syria, and then members of the group went there to fight against
the government forces.
Ø After they gained strength in Syria, they
re-entered Iraq in 2013 and seized much of Anbar a year later. In the same
year, Baghdadi announced that group will be known as the Islamic State in Iraq
and Syria (ISIS). He also said he was merging ISIS with the Al Qaeda affiliated
which was fighting in Syria, rejected Baghdadi move, and then in 2014, Al Qaeda
renounced its ties with ISIS after months of Al Nusra and ISIS infighting.
advantage of ex-Iraqi officers’ experience. ISIS fighters got better, because
they were led by former officers of Saddam’s army. The United States had
disbanded Iraq army in 2003 to start a new one, leaving many Sunni officers
They used ‘prison
networking’ very skilfully. By then, many of there top leaders were former
inmates at US or Iraqi prisons during the insurgency. Those prisons became
there networking centers for those who were likely to join the
and some of his top deputies were imprisoned at Camp Bucca, which was a US-run
prison in south Iraq.
After Mosul win,
they announced ‘Caliphate’. Then US and coalition forces begin the air strikes
against them. ISIS became their enemy no 1. And rest is all what we see today.
Freedom from ISIS.
Challenges, future implications and course of
As the story of
ISIS has almost come to an end, it is important to decide about some future
course of actions, so as to save these countries from again dwindling into a
civil war. It is important to create a democratic structure where all its citizens
feel safe and equal. It is the responsibility of everyone including the west.
Some of the
challenges in Middle East after ISIS are:
region of Kurdistan: This is one big concern for the US and the countries
comprising Kurds region – Iraq, Turkey and Syria. It’s future today, and that
of unified Iraq, is hanging because of an independence referendum announced in
September and was pushed by Masoud Barzani, then Kurdish leader, despite several
repeated warnings from Iraqi government, Turkey, Iran and the US which is also
the Kurds main ally. The vote could have lead to Iraq dissolution, undermined
the anti-ISIS fight and also widen divisions among Kurdish factions.