FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
West Asia, post-IS: On wresting Raqqa
Posted:Oct 19, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
The capture of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, by U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab troops this week is a crushing blow to the group. The IS, which once controlled territories as large as the U.K., is now concentrated in some pockets in Iraq and Syria. It lost Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to government troops earlier this year. With the loss of Raqqa to the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), its self-proclaimed “Caliphate” is now practically over. The last major population centre the group has control over is eastern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor, which is also increasingly under attack by Russia-backed Syrian government troops. In both Iraq and Syria, though different actors battled the IS, the strategy to counter the group was almost similar. 
 
In Iraq, government troops were joined by Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia militias in ground battles while the U.S. provided air cover. In Syria, the SDF, with cover by U.S. aircraft cover, and Syrian government forces aided by the Russian Air Force opened multiple fronts against the IS. Under pressure from all sides, the group finally crumbled. Its high-tech propaganda, which telecast beheadings and mass shootings, is now absent. Its organisational network is a shambles. Its top leaders are either dead or on the run. But the war is not over yet.
 
The IS was originally an insurgent group that transformed itself into a proto-state with a global appeal. That state is militarily destroyed, but IS, the movement, is far from over. As al-Qaeda in Iraq, the IS’s predecessor, retreated to the deserts and regrouped during 2008-2011, the IS could also retreat to the lawless parts of Iraq and Syria and wait for the right moment to strike back. With terror attacks in faraway locations such as Paris and Brussels and lone wolf attacks by individuals inspired by its world view, the IS has already proved it could continue its lethal campaign even while under military pressure. And the geopolitics of West Asia suggests that the troubled, chaotic countries from where the IS emerged are likely to continue being troubled in the near future. 
 
Till now a common enemy had brought them together. With the IS challenge fading, cracks are visible in the coalition. Iraqi government troops and the Kurdish Peshmerga — which fought together against the IS in Mosul — are now fighting each other in Kirkuk. Even in Syria, once the IS is defeated the regime could turn its focus on the Kurdish autonomous region. Turkey too has raised strong opposition to Washington arming the Kurds. Such voices will only grow in strength with the Kurds gaining increasing prominence in the battlefield. Now the question is whether the stakeholders have a larger vision for a post-IS West Asia in which the fundamental issues that helped the rise of groups like the IS can be addressed. Mere military victories do not usher in long-term changes.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Relations between India and Peru  are united by El Niño and the monsoon yet separated by vast distances across oceans.  Jorge Castaneda, Ambassador of Peru to India, talks to INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS exclusively about what is bringing the two geographically-apart countries closer.
 
read-more
The United Nations General Assembly rallied around world court Judge Dalveer Bhandari of India on Monday in his bid for reelection, defying the Security Council where permanent members and their allies put up a fight to protect one of their own, Britain's Christopher Greenwood.
 
read-more
  It has now been admitted that the shrines in Kashmir are not safe. However, the safety measures put in place by the concerned are not up to the mark. This harsh reality came to fore during Khankah-e-Moula blaze.
 
read-more
Another anti-China report has been issued by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission, created by Congress, has in past annual reports proposed extremely negative policies towards China. This year is no exception.
 
read-more
This week a major United Nations gathering on climate change gets underway in Bonn, Germany.
 
read-more

In its own coded and diplomatic style, the World Bank has warned that the government’s growth story is now at risk given the scale of the macroeconomic imbalances growing within it.

 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.