While Iraq is somewhat belaboring the point with its repeated victory celebrations, and fighting still going on, it’s safe to say Mosul is effectively lost from the perspective of ISIS. The city is in ruins, and ISIS forces only control a narrow strip of the Old City, which is also in ruins.
It’s a big loss for ISIS, one of the biggest they’ve ever sustained, but claims from Iraqi officials that it marks “the end of ISIS” are a major overstatement of the situation. Clearly, ISIS not only still hosts a lot of territory, but remains hugely powerful and influential besides.
Indeed, ISIS predates its “caliphate” by quite some time, with its origins as the al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgency. The group never totally abandoned those insurgency tactics when they became a land-holding state, and even if they ultimately lose all their territory, they’re just back to that.
And even that direct capability is just the tip of the iceberg, as ISIS retains massive influence in the international Islamist community, and will continue to inspire attacks worldwide, a problem that will likely endure irrespective of ISIS’ near-term prospects.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
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