30 May 2016

Squeezing Dâ'ish

Dâ'ish (ISIL) has made itself synonymous with religious barbarism in the territories it has seized -- executing homosexuals by throwing them off tall buildings, openly and explicitly enslaving non-Muslims, killing off educated women, and even burning at least one prisoner of war alive.  Dâ'ish has also carried out terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris, on a Russian airliner over Sinai, and elsewhere.

But the tide has clearly turned.  The peoples targeted by Dâ'ish for such atrocities are fighting back and winning.  In November Kurdish forces liberated the city of Sinjar, whose Yazidi (a non-Muslim religion) inhabitants had suffered mass killing and enslavement by Dâ'ish after they captured it more than a year earlier.  In February the Iraqi army recaptured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.  In March the Syrian army, with Russian air support, drove the jihadists out of the ancient city of Palmyra.  Several top leaders of the group have been killed in US airstrikes.

And now, the pressure is escalating.  The Iraqi army, now rendered considerably more effective by Iranian military advisers, has begun an offensive to retake the besieged Dâ'ish stronghold of FallujahUS-backed Kurds and Arabs are advancing toward Raqqa, Dâ'ish's "capital", from the north -- indeed, by some accounts fighting has already reached the northern edge of the city -- while the Russian-backed Syrian army threatens it from the south.  And the groundwork is being laid for an attack to recapture Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the most important place still under Dâ'ish control.

Dâ'ish won't die easily.  There is still much more fighting ahead, and the jihadists' frustration at their continuing defeats in the actual war may provoke them to lash out with further terrorist attacks.  Or, maybe not -- the mass murder of Russian and French civilians in the airliner bombing and the Paris shootings just provoked Russia and France to increase their engagement against Dâ'ish.  But even if further such attacks do happen, they will have little impact on the course of the war.

After Dâ'ish is defeated, other problems will rise to the surface.  US influence in Iraq and Russian influence in Syria may clash with rising Iranian influence in both.  The Kurds, having fought so tenaciously and at such cost for their homelands in both countries, will not meekly submit to a restoration of the sovereignty of Baghdad and Damascus.  If they do seem likely to retain their de facto independence, Turkey will bitterly object, fearing the inspiration such an outcome would offer its own huge Kurdish minority.

It will take a wise, steady, and prudent US President to help manage not only this complex war but the even more complex peace to follow -- yet another reason for us as voters to choose well in November.

6 Comments:

Blogger Green Eagle said...

You are certainly right about Daish in Syria and Iraq, but I have been disturbed by several stories about the growth of Daish in North and Central Africa, and their apparent alliances with other barbarous groups like Boko Haram. Is this a minor thing, or do you think ISIS could metastasize to Africa, as it is defeated in the Middle East? Fanaticism does not die easily.

31 May, 2016 23:05  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

So far, in Libya -- the only place in North Africa they seem to be operating -- Dâ'ish seems to be just an ordinary, rather small terrorist gang. Those will always exist and have to be fought, but they're not anything like the threat posed by a group which is able to capture and rule large ares of territory and significant cities. Even in Libya, they are only a real problem there because the country lapsed into chaos after the fall of Qaddhafi. Eventually a real government will emerge (or Egypt will get sick of the mess next door and impose one).

01 June, 2016 04:52  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...



I'm hearing reports that Falluja my be retaken. Do you have any more information on that?

02 June, 2016 06:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nothing conclusive. The latest reports I'm seeing say that Dâ'ish is counter-attacking strongly. I doubt the battle is over yet.

02 June, 2016 07:11  
Blogger Ahab said...

These developments give me hope for a timely defeat of ISIS/DAISH. Still, the fundamentalist impulses that gave rise to the organization and drove members into its ranks will remain, even if the organization itself disintegrates. What will become of those ex-ISIS militants, I wonder? What other trouble will they create in the Middle East due to their religious fervor?

06 June, 2016 08:35  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I think after Dâ'ish is defeated the former members will have their hands full with all the relatives of their victims who are out for revenge.

The really unlucky ones, of course, will be the ones who end up in Asad's prisons.

I think religious extremism is declining in popularity in the Middle East -- Dâ'ish itself has done a lot to discredit it. These groups turn militant and extremist precisely because they're losing out in the overall culture -- like the Christian Right in the US.

06 June, 2016 08:46  

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