Has ISIS Been Defeated?
Claims of Victory as Iraq/Syria Conflict Contines
Russia announced that ISIS had been defeated in Syria, now the Iraq government has declared ISIS defeated in Iraq, Kurdish YPG forces also announced the defeat of ISIS east of the Euphrates. At the same time, military operations are still ongoing, including the information warfare campaign: who will win the narrative of victory over ISIS?
Russia in Syria: Mission Accomplished
In a broadcast on the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi, head of the general staff’s operations, said (via Reuters):
The mission to defeat bandit units of the Islamic State terrorist organization on the territory of Syria, carried out by the armed forces of the Russian Federation, has been accomplished. The final stage of the defeat of the terrorists was accompanied by the unprecedented deployment and intense combat use of Russia’s air force.
In the last month alone, Russian long-range bombers made 14 sorties over Syria. Now that the immediate military threat had been neutralized, Russia would concentrate on maintaining the ceasefire and restoring peace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised Russian troops with a visit to the Russian air base of Khmeimim, Syria, yesterday, Dec. 11, before flying to talks in Egypt and Turkey
Putin attempted to exploit the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by calling it “counter-productive” and “destabilizing”. In the context of the signing of a nuclear deal with Egypt and attempting to win more influence over Turkey, Putin’s comments were obviously designed to appease Muslim sentiment over the US decision.
Speaking at Khmeimim airbase, Putin announced the reduction of Russian forces in Syria – the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval base would continue to be operational, according to the Washington Times.
U.S. Army Colonel Rob Manning expressed doubt over Russian intentions, saying that such announcements “don’t often correspond with actual troop reductions.” According to Russian propaganda network Sputnik, Russia “is back in the Middle East.”
Meanwhile the US and coalition forces have continued fighting ISIS units in Syria, with the latest strikes against Islamic state targets reported on December 8.
Has ISIS Been Defeated in Iraq?
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State on Saturday, Dec. 9. As reported in the New York Times, al-Abadi said:
Our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh [Islamic State]. Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination.
Hussein Allawi, a professor of national security at Al Nahrain University in Baghdad, was more circumspect. “The battles against Daesh are over,” he said, “but the war is not.”
The Iraqi government estimates that there are around 20,000 Islamic State supporters still in Iraq, concealing themselves among internally displaced persons or hiding in inaccessible areas of the western deserts.
“There Will Be Another Islamic State”
According to Alexander Gillespie, a professor of international law at the University of Waikato
You need to be thinking longer term because there will be another Islamic State, it’s just a question of when, just like there was an Al Qaeda and there will be other jihadi groups. In the longer term it’s about building societies where these groups do not ferment and come forward.
Prof. Gillespie pointed out that many Islamic State fighters must now have escaped Iraq.
This is the major European preoccupation right now, most of Europe’s not that concerned with what happens to Iraq but what happens when these people come back into your community and they’ve been involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity and they want to continue the fight. The general feeling is that you’ve got to lock them up when they come home, you’ve got to make sure that there’s a deterrent so that they know they’re not scot-free and then you’ve got to investigate every one of them to see how engaged they were in the conflict.
IS-affiliated groups continue to be active in Africa and Afghanistan, with thousands of suspect individuals on terrorist watch lists across Europe following massive immigration; and, as the latest Islamic terrorist attack in New York shows, Islamic State has already brought its war to the West.
Image: Russian Federation Sukhoi Su-34 attacking ISIS targets in Syria with 560kg KAB-500S bomb (Russian MOD, 2015)