Losses Inflicted on ISIS

Extract from a column by Daniel Byman, The New York Times, March 23

…Working with Western and Iraqi partners, American forces have pushed back the Islamic State. The group has lost an estimated 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria from its peak in the summer of 2014. Major cities like Ramadi have been reclaimed, and Mosul, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, may be next. American military officials say that the group has lost more than ten thousand fighters.

These losses hurt the Islamic State twice over. The control of territory and the establishment of a “caliphate” is one of the big differences between the Islamic State and jihadist organizations that have preceded it. Qaeda leaders have long opposed such a move, arguing that it is premature, even foolhardy. The Islamic State, however, has gained legitimacy and popularity among radical Muslims by creating a “state” where they can live under their interpretation of Islamic law. Losing territory is a blow to its ambitions and legitimacy.

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One response to “Losses Inflicted on ISIS

  1. mike holliday

    What a short-sighted view. The caliphate has aspirations. It wants to become a legitimate `country.’ It might be doing that by force of arms and not the ballot box, but it is hardly alone in that (think North Korea as the most obvious, but not the sole military dictatorship in the world) nor were the countries from which it gained most land (Syria and Iraq) outstanding examples of democracy.
    What will ISIS do now? If it runs true to type it will revert to covert terrorism aimed at those countries that have destroyed its dreams.
    By destroying the caliphate we increase not decrease the threat of terrorism.
    A further problem is that Mr Byman’s jingoistic post that American forces have led the charge fails to mention the real game-changer in the region – Russia.
    Look out for greater destabilisation of the Arab lands as Russia exerts the much greater influence its military has gained.