The State Department’s envoy to the US-led anti-ISIS coalition warned of a possible resurgence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria due to rising “poverty and inequality.” US officials are constantly warning ISIS will make a comeback to justify the continued occupation of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS no longer holds any significant territory and is confined to the deserts of Syria and mountain hideouts in Iraq. Although the group is no threat to the US, the US-led coalition frequently carries out airstrikes and raids against ISIS targets in Iraq. In Syria, it’s mostly the Syrian government that is fighting against ISIS.
“One thing I heard consistently in both Iraq and Syria is that poverty, inequality, and perceived injustice continue to drive many young people to join terrorist groups,” US envoy John Godfrey said at a press briefing.
“The combination of a severe drought and a weak harvest that will be about half of what is normal has created a significant economic downturn that impacts the revenues of local partners and also contributes to unemployment,” he said.
One thing missing from Godfrey’s list of causes of poverty is US sanctions. While the US claims it cares about Syrian civilians, the US has imposed crippling economic sanctions on Syria that specifically target the energy and construction sectors, preventing the country from rebuilding after 10 years of war.
Besides sanctions, US intervention as a whole is responsible for the creation of ISIS. If not for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and support from the US and its allies for opposition groups and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, ISIS never would have formed.