THE FALL OF THE ISLAMIC STATE
The Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) A US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters, early in the week announced that the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has lost the last pocket of territory in Syria it controlled, bringing a formal end to the “caliphate”. The caliphate had been proclaimed in June 2014 and at the height of its powers controlled some 88,000 square KM of territory and had a standing army estimated at about 40000 fighters. It imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people, generating billions of dollars in revenue from oil, extortion, robbery and kidnapping. About 6000 of the fighters and their families are held in refugee camps within Syria. Defeated but still radicalised.
Despite the demise of its physical caliphate, IS remains a battle-hardened and well-disciplined force whose “enduring defeat” is not assured. And the international community must maintain a vigilant offensive against this now largely dispersed and disaggregated group. As a diplomat had put it: “The international community should be more worried as the bee hive might have been broken, but the bees are now all over the world.”
The Islamic State is bound to rise again.