Victory in Mosul Does Not Mean That Dash Ideology Has Been Defeated
By LTC Sargis Sangari and Steven Weingartner
This week Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi visited Mosul to congratulate Iraqi forces for bringing an end to Jihadist rule in the city. But his words rang hollow to all those involved in the fighting, and to the devastated city’s residents as well. For they know that the defeat of ISIS in the battle for Iraq’s second largest city does not mean that that Daesh ideology is defeated.
Daesh ideology remains a potent force, and its followers are adapting to the new conditions on the ground.
On 11 AUG 16 NEC-SE predicted that the Islamic State will refashion itself from a quasi-national entity to an insurgent force with an international reach and an ideology of perpetual war that will continue to gain adherents globally.
This transformation is already taking place.
Even though the Islamic State has suffered battlefield defeat in Mosul an elsewhere in the region, it’s surviving rank-and-file can be expected to continue planning and carrying out terrorist operations worldwide.
Nor has it been entirely eradicated from Syria and Iraq. Far from it. In Iraq, the group still controls Tal Afar, Hawija, the Makhoul Mountains, and much of Anbar Province. On 12 JUL 17 ISIS declared Tal Afar to be part of the new Islamic State. Using Hawija as its base and operating out of the Makhoul Mountains, ISIS is well positioned to strike deep into the Iraqi heartland to gain control of key Sulaymaniyah Governorate areas in eastern Iraq, the city of Kirkuk and its adjacent oil fields, the west side of the city of Shingal, given it is controlling the eastern sector of the city, and the western Al-Anbar desert including the towns close to Al-Qa’im, Anah, and Rawah which are under its control.
It is quite conceivable that ISIS could appear in parts of Baghdad, which no one would expect, reachable by ISIS militants.
In Syria, As the U.S. Special Operations are working to clear Raqqah, the Islamic State’s top operatives have relocated to towns still under IS control in the Euphrates River Valley. Many have moved into Mayadeen, and have taken with them the group’s most important recruiting, financing, propaganda and external operations functions. Other leaders have been spirited out of Raqqa by a trusted network of aides to a string of towns extending from Deir al-Zour to Abu Kamal.
According to a recent U.S. Army study, the Islamic State has over the past few months and despite recent setbacks, carried out nearly 1,500 attacks in 16 cities across Iraq and Syria. These actions demonstrate that the group has returned to its insurgent roots, foreshadowing long-term security threats to those nations and people it counts among its enemies.
On 11 JUL 17 jihadists killed at least Seven Hindu pilgrims wounded as many as nineteen in an attack in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir. Islamic State operatives have also been linked with the takeover of Marawi City on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.
After the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the forces of the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) seized Raqqa, which became the group’s administrative capital.
In August 2014 Islamic State forces captured Mosul. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared that his followers were not merely insurgents, like Al-Qaeda’s fighters, but rather the founders of an Islamic State, the so-called caliphate.
Inspired by a violent, apocalyptic ideology, which has attracted many foreign fighters to its ranks, IS seized large areas of Syria and Iraq, took control of oil wells in the region, and created an administrative infrastructure for ruling their nascent state.
The Islamic State has surpassed Al-Qaeda by conquering, holding, and governing territory for an extended period. It has thus won credibility in the world of militant Islam as a force capable of achieving jihadist goals.
This week the Department of State held a three-day conference attended by the representatives of a 72-member of “anti-Islamic State” coalition to formulate a plan for defeating ISIS in the territories it still holds in in Iraq and Syria. It is the opinion of the NEC-SC, however, that victory over ISIS will continue to prove elusive unless and until coalition members address what retired U.S. Army General Martin E. Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described as the internal contradictions within Islam; and unless and until the U.S. provides continual and substantive support for its enduring partners in the region who are going through a genocide on a daily basis. These partners are the only ones who know how one can live, die, fight, and co-exist with other groups and ideologies in the Middle East.
LTC Sargis Sangari is the founder and CEO of NEC-SC. Steven Weingartner is NEC-SC’s Senior Editor.