Wednesday, 20 May 2015

ISIL Expands its hold in Middle East

Militants on the march
As ISIL establishes itself in the newly captured town of Palmyra and the world braces itself for more bad news, Hassan Hassan suggests that "anyone telling you the Islamic State is in decline isn’t paying attention to what is happening" ('The ISIS March Continues: From Ramadi on to Baghdad?' Foreign policy May 19, 2015)
The fall of the city of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province, leaves no doubt about the jihadi group’s capabilities: Despite U.S. attempts to paint it as a gravely weakened organization, the Islamic State remains a powerful force that is on the offensive in several key fronts across Syria and Iraq. Ramadi is far from the only front on which the Islamic State is advancing. The group last week launched an offensive, supported by multiple suicide operations, in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor against President Bashar al-Assad regime’s holdouts in the military air base. In the central city of Palmyra, it attacked a regime base near the ancient Roman ruins. It also recently clashed with Syrian rebels and the regime in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, the provinces of Homs and Hama, and the southern city of Quneitra, near the border with Israel. [...]
It is argued that the picture prevalent in the media, that the Islamic State is destined to decline appears to be false. Although the U.S. is downplaying the significance of the recent advances, they show that US strategy is failing, and ISIL will continue to expand in the region. "The idea that the Islamic State is losing or declining now seems absurd".
Rather than suffering from resource and manpower shortages, the group is only increasing its grip on the local populations in its strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa, Syria; it is also attracting a considerable number of recruits, especially among teenagers. [...] it should be clear that the current U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State has failed. The White House’s focus on airstrikes in Iraq - while making little progress in training anti-Islamic State Sunni forces in either Syria or Iraq - is allowing the group immense space for planning, maneuvering, and redeployment.
That presumably includes outside attempts to interfere with the source of the groups financing which obviously has not dented its capabilities.

In fact, is it not the case that whipping up sudden hysterical concern for the fate of the ruins  is not a social-engineering strategy by our media intended to deflect attention away from the strategic significance of the lost city? It is a central hub of the road system leading to Damascus, here are important military bases, an airfield (and prison) and its loss is a severe blow to those who all-too-naively-assumed that sending in a few planes to bomb a few tanks and stuff would be enough to end the advance of the islamists. What will happen to the ruins will happen, instead of fussing over what we did not do to document and preserve them, we should be giving thought to what needs to happen to bring a better future for Syria. 

See also:  Jane Onyanga-Omara, 'Activists: Islamic State seizes more than half of Syria', USA Today, May 21, 2015

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