This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, April 04, 2016

And After Daesh ... ?

"There is no such thing as a 'virtual caliphate' that exists only in the sky and on the Internet -- the taking of land and the holding of important cities like Raqqa and Mosul -- is the entire point."
"When you take away the notion of a return to a golden age of Islam, there's a larger consequence of Western kids losing their attraction."
Amarnath Amarasingam, researcher in foreign fighters, University of Waterloo

"ISIS's leadership is being debilitated. Without infiltration of ISIS [through the U.S. penetration of the Daesh inner circle], these killings [of leading ISIL commanders] would not have been possible."
Rami Abdel Rahman, director, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
WATCH: New ISIS Video Shows Islamic State Fighting Peshmerga
Still from video; Islamic State fighting Kurdish military

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- Daesh preferably rendering them less impressive -- is struggling to maintain the geographic areas it had so triumphantly taken from the governments of Iraq and Syria, to establish its Caliphate. Through the intervention of outside sources; in both instances the United States leading a bombing coalition of international partners; in Syria, an assorted Shiite-led backing of militias mentored by Iran, the al Quds Republican Guard, Hezbollah, and Russia, ISIL has been pushed out of some of the territory it has claimed for its own.

It took eight months for Ramadi to be freed from Daesh, but the city no longer resembles its former presence. Now a mine-infested urban wasteland, with thousands of buildings destroyed, one might imagine that if it were not in Iraq, that the Syrian military might have bombed it as it has Syrian Sunni areas of Syria's major cities. As brutal and merciless as Daesh has been, it's difficult to separate the level of their depredations from those of the Syrian regime.

The proof of that can be seen in Syrian activists' view of Palmyra's recent "liberation" from Daesh. As far as they are concerned, the city has "just been transferred from one tyranny to another". ISIL is not only losing territory, it is also losing the benefit of some of its significant, elite commanders thanks to targeted strikes that have succeeded in eliminating them. U.S. forces dispatched Daesh deputy leader Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa-al Qaduli in a special operation hear Raqqa, last week.

Neatly following that coup up with the killing of Abu al-Hija, a high-ranking Tunisian Daesh commander on the road to Aleppo, with special orders from Daesh caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A man who may eventually find himself increasingly isolated, and perhaps soon successfully targeted. What Western intelligence is asking themselves is: what happens when Daesh is vanquished? Where will its faithful jihadis turn, having lost their leadership?

As though there are no other virulent jihadis groups willing and eager to welcome recruits who have proven their mettle. While Syria and Iraq remain mired in their sectarian dysfunction, the foreign terrorist groups will continue to gain ground. It is, in any event, questionable what the differences are between government actions and non-state militias, each pursuing similar goals; the eradication of the enemy, usually identified as either Sunni or Shiite.

In this photo released on May 4, 2015, by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Islamic State militants pass by a convoy in Tel Abyad town, northeast Syria. In contrast to the failures of the Iraqi army, in Syria Kurdish fighters are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country's northeast in recent days, under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes. (Militant website via AP)

After Daesh, then what? Perhaps the territory reclaimed -- by someone, not necessarily the government from whom it was wrested, but enabling other terrorist groups to settle in for the long haul; they all, after all, envision their own caliphate, ruling with all the vigour and fervour of Sharia law administered with a vengeance. Minority ethnic and religious remnants of whatever is left in Iraq and Syria after Daesh targeted Christians and Yazidi, will simply be re-targeted by Daesh's successors.

For there will be successors if Daesh melts into history. Because the ideas that they represent live on, as they always have, inscribed in the Koran, emphasized in mosques every Friday sermon, taught in the madrassas, sworn allegiance to by the faithful. Daesh fighters who find themselves dislocated in the absence of their leader eventually, will simply move on elsewhere to other areas of the Middle East or North Africa where they will be embraced by established militias to continue the vital work of Islam.

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