Notice the title of this article. It is clear that with the recapture of Mosul a few months ago and Raqqa just the other day, the Islamic State is finished in Iraq and Syria. But for how long? Nobody knows for sure. They can make a comeback. Jihadism is a popular lifestyle in the Middle East. And in Europe too. So, even though the United States, Iraq, the Kurds, Russia, Assad’s Syrian forces, and the US backed Syrian forces are all celebrating victory right now, just remember that large numbers of ISIS trained terrorists have infiltrated Europe and other civilized areas of the world.
But, all that aside…what contributed to the defeat of ISIS? For one thing, ISIS was just not popular enough in their neck of the woods. They were exclusively Sunni Muslims, and ticked off every single Shiite alive. So, right there they do not have the majority of Iraqis on their side, and a significant number of Syrians are Shiite as well. Their brutality certainly turned away all the Sunnis they thought were not Islamic enough. (Heck, they even turned off Al-Qaeda and the Taliban who thought ISIS was too extreme!) The Kurds, who are Sunni, proved to be more than equal to the task of crushing ISIS in stand up fighting. And of course, all the Christians and Yazidi were eager to join the fight since they were marked for extermination.
Secondly, ISIS was essentially a guerrilla movement. In the history of warfare, guerrilla movements can do quite well…IF. If they are continuously supplied from the outside by other nations. Look at the Viet Cong for example. They were constantly supplied by the Soviet Union and China and the US just could not seem to stanch the flow of weaponry. ISIS, on the other hand managed to isolate itself. Your guerrilla movement is in big trouble if somehow you manage to tick off Russia and the United States at the same time! You can capture all the tanks and artillery you want, but if you can’t get the spare parts and ammo to operate that stuff, then all of it becomes just a hunk of metal.
Thirdly, we have the Air Force. And they don’t. You can jerry-rig all the homemade drones you want (and ISIS was pretty ingenious in doing that), but if the other guy has Predator drones, F-16s and B-1 bombers….you can start counting down the days until there’s nothing left of your Caliphate but a grease spot. Our Air Force, along with our special forces arming and training Syrian and Iraqi forces, Russian and pro-Assad Syrians, and the ferocious warriors of the Kurdish people, stamped out ISIS.
But what is next? A significant Russian military presence is in Syria. The US backed Syrian forces are not buddy-buddy with President Assad’s Russian backed forces. And the Kurds, who have done significant heavy lifting in this fight, straddle both Syria and Iraq. Will either of those two nations leave the Kurds alone to govern themselves? We can only wait and see.