Isis may be on its knees but it will rise again if we don’t break the cycle

Introduction — July 15, 2017

There is ample evidence that Isis (otherwise known as Daesh, Islamic State or ISIL) was backed by the West and funded by Saudi Arabia and the gulf emirates.
In fact as far back as 2012 Reuters was reporting that “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) were being paid regular salaries by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Given the amiable ties between the FSA and Isis it’s safe to assume that some of that funding ended up in the hands of Isis. Because there have been numerous reports of FSA fighters joining ISIS aligned groups or “moderate Syrian rebels” striking deals with ISIS.
In the words of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, who recently returned from a four-day trip to the strife torn country: “There are no moderate rebels” in Syria.
Put that together with reports that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was actually a Mossad agent and the whole ISIS, Islamic State, Daesh, ISIL story begins to look like a fraud.
The fact that the Sunni militant organisation has so many names is a ploy to further confuse investigators. Despite the multiple names it is still one and the same organisation that was created to foment conflict and strife in the Muslim world. It was in effect formed in much the same way as Al Qaeda was.
That’s why the following, although superficially informative, is nonetheless entirely misleading. It omits to mention the key point that the Sunni militant group was set up and funded by the gulf states and the West to be used as proxies. First to be used to oust Syrian President Assad and then to assist in bringing about regime change in Iran. Ed.
Iraqi soldier holds ISIS flag in the rubble of Mosul. Click to enlarge

Iraqi soldier holds ISIS flag in the rubble of Mosul. Click to enlarge

Isis may be on its knees but it will rise again if we don’t break the cycle

Hassan Hassan — The Guardian July 15, 2017

A day before the battle to expel Islamic State from Mosul began, the group’s propaganda was dealt a potentially significant blow that was quickly forgotten. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels drove Isis out of Dabiq, a small town in northern Syria, where Mohammed Emwazi, the British extremist known as Jihadi John, beheaded Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, declaring: “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”

With the rise of Isis in 2014, the town served as the centre of its propaganda. This was where Isis promised a final showdown between the forces of good and evil, an epic battle supposedly foretold by Islamic prophecies in the seventh century. Isis named its main propaganda magazine after the town.

To depict its story as a coherent one foreseen by its visionary founders, each of the magazine’s editions began with a quote from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who founded the group in Iraq in 2004: “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify – by Allah’s permission – until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.”

But Dabiq was recaptured by Sunni militants. The expulsion of Isis from the town was an opportunity to deal its propaganda a double blow, not just because of the failed prophecy but that it was defeated by the very population that Isis claims to represent, on whose behalf it is fighting the world. Isis quickly revised the Dabiq prophecy, saying it still applied but its time had not yet come. Isis moved the goalposts, figuratively as well as literally – fleeing fighters reportedly removed the town name’s signs and took them away.

The opportunity to undermine the Isis narrative was lost and people barely remember Dabiq today. A day after its defeat in Dabiq, Isis began to depict Mosul as the site of the epic battle instead. And from a military perspective, as US officials would readily acknowledge, the Mosul battle was nothing like they have seen against a terrorist group. It was the largest campaign in Iraq’s recent history, with a force of about 60,000 mobilised against Isis deploying formidable US firepower. For both sides, it was bloody and intensive.

Maj Gen Sami al-Aradi, a commander of Iraq’s special forces, told the New York Times: “I have participated in all of the battles of Iraq, but I’ve never seen anything like the battle for the old city. We have been fighting for each metre. And when I say we have been fighting for each metre, I mean it literally.”

But Iraqis emerged victorious. Mosul, Isis’s most populous and symbolic stronghold, was liberated. The Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, from which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave his ascension speech as “caliph”, was recaptured after his fighters blew it up to deny the government the possibility of adding insult to injury by announcing the liberation of the mosque.

The group is also projected to lose its second pillar, Raqqa in Syria, by the end of this year. The caliphate is falling apart.

In this context, the common question has been: what comes next? Where is Isis heading after Mosul and Raqqa? How much of a threat will a post-caliphate Isis be to the region and the world?

The consensus, by observers and politicians alike, is that Isis is far from over. But little has been said about the extent of the damage caused by and to the organisation. Four aspects can help provide clarity:

■ Isis has lost the caliphate but it has gained a transnational organisation it did not have three years ago. Largely an Iraq-focused organisation, al-Qaida in Iraq, whose founders came from various jihadist battlefields, was a localised group until it expanded into Syria in 2013 and became Islamic State in the summer of 2014. Since then, it has sought to develop branches and cells across the region and beyond.

Isis is arguably a fully fledged international group vying to reclaim the mantle of global jihad from al-Qaida. The world today faces a second global jihadist threat that it did not face before 2014, a threat whose model operates differently from that of al-Qaida. Isis, for example, emphasises sectarian jihad against Shia Muslims, Coptic Christians and other minorities in a way that al-Qaida does not.

Continues …

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