ISIS: The End is Nigh?

Is This the Beginning of the End of the Islamic State?
Riyadh Mohammed,The Fiscal Times Fri, Apr 22 9:15 AM PDT

Just as the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS is making real progress on the ground, political chaos in Iraq is threatening to undermine those hard-fought gains.

Iraq’s ongoing political crisis is reaching another turning point. This week, several ministries are under siege in Baghdad by demonstrators who are trying to break into the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the American embassy and the Iraqi national government. Iraq now has a divided parliament with two speakers; one is supported by Shiite demonstrators, the other backed by Sunnis and Kurds.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are trying to maintain recent momentum. On Monday in Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the deployment of 200 additional U.S. Special Forces to Iraq. He also added Apache helicopters and financial support of $400 million to fund the Iraqi Kurds. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Baghdad a week ago that ISIS’s days are numbered.

The U.S. has spent nearly $7 billion of taxpayer money and launched more than 11,000 air raids against ISIS over the past twenty months. ISIS has lost almost every major battle it fought in Iraq and Syria in the last year. The overall effect of these losses on the group’s funding, leadership, arms, propaganda communications and manpower is immense.

We are seeing not only a shift in the dynamic and the momentum of the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS; it is quite possibly the beginning of the end for the group as a state-based actor.

How the Momentum Shifted

Iraq: North of Baghdad, the Iraqi army and Shiite militias retook the strategic city of Baiji in October 2015, where Iraq’s largest oil refinery is located. The October offensive was one of the largest of the war, with enough forces not only to clear the city and its refinery but also to advance further north and maintain security in the area.

ISIS Targets Destroyed By American Air Strikes | Graphiq
The following month, the Kurds launched a major offensive on Sinjar in northwestern Iraq. They reclaimed the city they lost in August 2014, cutting a major supply line between Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and Raqqah, ISIS’s capital in Syria.

The U.S. military advised the Iraqi army to surround ISIS in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The maneuver worked and Ramadi was liberated in December 2015. A large area to the north of Ramadi and to the southwest of Baiji was also cleared last month.

The Iraqi army continued its push in Anbar this month and recently liberated the city of Hit.

Syria: Supported by U.S.-led air strikes, the Syrian Kurds launched three major successful offensives on ISIS-held territories. The first liberated the strategic city of al-Hawl and the surrounding areas in northeastern Syria in November 2015.

The second offensive reclaimed the Tishrin Dam and the surrounding areas in northern Syria the following month. The third offensive was a further advancement from al-Hawl to the city of al-Shadadi and its surrounding areas in February 2016. The Kurds captured six cities and towns and more than 650 villages from ISIS. Two dams, four oil fields, two gas stations, six border posts and a military base were taken as well.

Supported by the Russian military, Syrian government forces also achieved multiple victories. The ISIS siege on the government-held Kweires Airbase in northern Syria was lifted in November. The cities of Palmyra and al-Qaryatayn in central Syria were retaken last month. Finally, Syrian rebels with Turkish military support reclaimed part of the Turkish–Syrian border that had been controlled by ISIS.

Overall, ISIS has lost more than a quarter of the lands it controlled a year ago and now rules 3 million fewer people. The recently reported famine in Fallujah indicates the difficulties ISIS is facing now in feeding some of the people it controls.

ISIS fighters have reportedly been fleeing the battlefield in greater numbers. Of course, if they’re caught, they are executed by ISIS. But the myth of the ISIS fighter who fights to the death is less and less true. The anti-ISIS forces used to need several months to break the will of ISIS soldiers in combat. Now they need just a few weeks.

The Change in Military Tactics

Leadership changes within the U.S. military have contributed to the improved performance against ISIS. The new leader of the U.S. Central Command is General Joseph Votel, who previously ran Special Operations Command. General Raymond A. Thomas, who served as commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has taken Votel’s old job.

Votel and Thomas come from the shadowy world of Special Ops, a service responsible for hunting down America’s enemies, from Saddam Hussein to Osama Bin Laden.

The change in leadership accompanies a notable change in military tactics. U.S. air strikes against ISIS have become more focused over the last few months. Air raids have crippled ISIS’s oil operations, with 1,200 oil-related targets destroyed, according to Kerry. Another campaign has targeted ISIS’s banks and finances. Now a third campaign is targeting ISIS’s communication centers. The U.S.-led strikes have led to a sharp decrease in ISIS fighters’ salaries, causing frustration among fighters and decreased recruitment.

According to an IHS Jane’s report, about 25,000 ISIS fighters have been killed since the U.S.-led campaign started. The C.I.A. estimates that ISIS currently has 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers, the lowest force level since the end of 2014. The loss of land, people and oil have led to a drop of its monthly revenues from $80 million to $56 million.

Meanwhile, the campaign to hunt down ISIS leadership continues. Last month, two top ISIS leaders were killed in Syria by U.S. air raids – Abu Ala al-Afri, the ISIS second in command, and the Georgian-born Abu Omar al-Shishani, ISIS’s top military commander. (Both men were erroneously reported dead previously.)

Even ISIS’s massive propaganda operation has been weakened. Twitter announced on February that it has closed about 125,000 pro-ISIS accounts in the last seven months. A George Washington University study on extremism found that there are about 1000 pro-ISIS accounts that actively tweet in English. ISIS’s videos, which were always available on YouTube, are being vigorously removed.

The Risks Ahead

Despite the great progress made in the last few months, two worrisome developments in Syria and Iraq threaten to reverse all that has been achieved so far. In Iraq, the weak government of Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi is facing resistance on multiple fronts: one organized by the Shiite half of the Iraqi members of parliament who toppled the speaker, Muqtada al-Sadr, and the liberal and leftist activists who have been demonstrating against corruption for several months. If Iraq sinks further into political chaos, the security apparatus will be helpless against ISIS attacks.

In Syria, the ceasefire brokered by the U.S. and Russia is collapsing . If the fragile ceasefire – which allowed the government and the rebels to focus on fighting ISIS instead of each other – is completely abandoned, ISIS could retake what it has lost. In fact, this chain of events might have already started in the Turkish–Syrian border area. The Obama administration is said to have a backup plan that involves arming the Syrian rebels heavily if and when the ceasefire collapses.

But all it not lost. If Iraq’s political crisis could be resolved and the Syrian ceasefire continues, and the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS builds on the current momentum against ISIS, we could see an end of the terror group’s control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, including the cities of Mosul, Fallujah and Raqqa, within a year or so.

What would be the fate of ISIS’ world franchises? After losing strategic cities in Iraq and Syria, what could be the impact on its operation in Libya, its chemical weapons arsenal, its European terror cells, its inspired followers in the U.S. and Europe? ISIS has shown that whenever it suffers on conventional battlefronts, it sends suicide attackers throughout the Middle East and Europe to assert its continuing existence and lethality.

ISIS’s efforts to inspire more Americans to commit atrocities like the San Bernardino shooting might escalate. Absent the important strongholds in Syria and Iraq, its Libya operation could become the center of its caliphate. Chemical weapons could become more developed and used more often. Another chapter in ISIS’s story might have just begun.

From The Fiscal Times Link

It still perplexes me how ISIS, which has never fielded much more than a division on a WWII scale and at best about two divisions on some modern scales, and which has no air force while its opponents control the air, has been so successful.

Or, more accurately, why is it that the forces opposing ISIS haven’t been able to defeat it a lot earlier?

It seems that, man for man, ISIS is a much better fighting force than its opponents, in attack and defence, which perhaps isn’t all that surprising given the injection of former Iraqi senior and other officers who support its Sunni cause.

I do not believe that the Arab resistance to the disappearance, only in name will change over time as another organization revives
Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Isis is the same program only the names changes by time to time
In my opinion, direct military infantry steps would be needed like Afganistan, rather than bombing
These countries require constant military supervision from the soldiers of the NATO

maybe coz the isis has a rich sponsors?:wink: Like Saudi arabia as example.I agree they have no more then single devision , but that devision has a regular replenishment by cannon meat from abroad - such a division may fight eternally. Another one great sponsor is the Iraqi army , supplied with hummers, tanks and ammo directly from USA- and becouse this army has no absolutly wish or ability to fight- the isis finally get a tonns of newest american equipment at their hands.

Or, more accurately, why is it that the forces opposing ISIS haven’t been able to defeat it a lot earlier?

Maybe coz there was no a united force opposed to isis previously;) Don’t know for Iraq , but in Syria the “moderate resistence” fought more the SAA then isis, just like the pro-turkish warriors on the north. Isis just use the situation for own profit to parasite and grow like a cancer attacks an organism.

It seems that, man for man, ISIS is a much better fighting force than its opponents, in attack and defence,

its’ maybe true for Iraqi forces, but SAA fight very desperatively and succesfully agains isis.All they need is a effective air support, but not the separate air war like US coalition wage in iraq.When SAA works in close military cooperation with aviation - just look at the fine resault!!!
isis is runing ;)bas…rds now is getting what have deserved…

Saudi Arabia is the biggest and worst source of Islamic jihadist cancer eating into the rest of the world, but it has oil and huge investments in the US and elsewhere and, like Israel for different and less understandable reasons, gets away with conduct that wouldn’t be tolerated by Western countries from any other minor power which causes international problems out of all proportion to their size, population and objectively assessed significance.

And Saudi Arabia is protected by America’s refusal to release the 9/11 report relating to Saudi involvement in 9/11. So much for truth, justice and the American way.

Well, my old Russian mate, one of the great benefits of Russian involvement in Syria so far as ISIS is concerned is that Russian rules of engagement are closer to WWII (i.e. see the enemy and attack), while Western rules of engagement tend to be wrapped up in a lot legalistic restraints on hurting anyone, which is laughable given that there is no legal basis for the Western forces being there in the first place.

They have already been there with whole “military coalition ground forces” , on both in Iraq and Afganistan. Which is resault - the thousand of dead soldiers of coalition with absolutly no visible harm for taliban. How much they need to repeat this else?

Hello dear sir Rising Sun:) really laughable restraints coz i think the west is repsponsible for the fate of the Iraqi army and entire iraq population after the libaration of Iraq in 2004. Why not to assist iraqi forces more actively and effective fighting the most cruel threat for entire western ideology and way of life- the isis. They supplied the Bahdad with weapon - but withous proper training that weapon almost totaly got into isis hands.

What makes you think that Western nations / leaders / politicians / armies could possibly care about the poor bastards on the ground in countries affected by their decisions and warlike actions?

After Gulf War I the first Bush President and his mates encouraged the Kurds to fight Saddam and, when they did, abandoned them and let the poor bastards get wiped out by Saddam’s forces.

Of course the West supplied Saddam with weapons and military training for these and other purposes, although not with the intention of them being used that way.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the US, Russia, France, UK, China etc etc etc. All the big powers shit on everyone else when it suits them, and the medium to minor powers like my country which are aligned with the big powers join in shitting on the latest victim.

Meanwhile, none of the major powers gives a flying f**k about endless massacres and other abuses of innocent people all over the planet, unless there is oil or some other strategic or national advantage that makes it worthwhile.

Take this for an example. In 1942-43 when Australia, ably and hugely assisted by America, was fighting Japan for Australia’s survival, but with no guarantee that Australia would survive, there were machinations in America by its airline industry to ensure that if Australia survived it would be American civilian planes which controlled the seaplane routes to and from Australia.

Soldiers die for principles espoused by their nations, which nations have no principles.

Yeah, the “redacted 28 pages”…

We were, then we turned it over to the Iraqis that decided to hollow out their Army with corruption and with a tyrannical Baathist regime that alienated the Sunni population the U.S. forces largely won (or bought) over with “The Surge”…

Well ,if to avoid the pure hunamity and principles of democracy( which has been declared prior to invasion) the west , i think , should care about …its finantion investitions, mate. A billions of dollars has been invested into the Iraq economy and its military and police forces. What is for? To see how the religious barbarians from isis retakes the Iraq and devastates it back into the middle-age regime? It’s sounds at least non-logical;) Even if US so rich to print the dollars by billions per day - the memory of killed soldiers of american army shouldn’t let them to forget about Iraq.

So the iraqis are guilt?;)is that not that democratic regime that US so kindly installed after the Saddam?

Pretty much. The Shias had the majority so they elected a **** al-Maliki. I believe large swaths of the Iraqi Army gave half their salaries to corrupt commanders in order not to have to show up to work and so on. He’s since been deposed and supposedly things are improving. But the sectarianism still haunts Iraq, largely an artificial country…

What comes out of the posts in this thread is, distressingly:

  1. Ordinary people have little confidence in their leaders, regardless of their nation.
  2. Ordinary people suffer in some nations because of the bad decisions of their leaders and other leaders, in most, if not all, nations.
  3. If ordinary people’s interests and concerns were pursued by politicians, the world would be a very much better place.

But there is a lot of artificial multi-national countries in the region - pick any of neighbourd. Like Israel;) Had it been soundly to overtake the Saddam to install the another regime , that wasn’t proper for that country

Signed under each statement!! But this seditious posts, mate, make me to conclude that the main enemy of ordinary peoples like you and me - are our own politicans and govenments. Is this sort of thinking legal on this forum?:wink:

Point taken. There was talk of splitting Iraq into three nations: “Sunnistan”, “Shiastan”, and Kurdistan. But the complexity of dividing oil revenue and the objection of the Turks and Iranians to creating a home for Kurds killed the idea. The latter is probably going to happen anyway at the expense of Iraq and Syria…

Reality posts, mate, not sedition!

Politicians are by nature power-seeking arseholes, otherwise they wouldn’t want to run other people’s lives instead of being content with their own lives.

The rest of us just want to live good and reasonable lives with a fair chance for our children and ourselves in every aspect of life, be they education, jobs, etc


Alas, it’s not legal in some countries and pretty much impossible in most countries where thinking of fairness is overwhelmed by the power which comes with the money which gets power-seeking arseholes into positions where they can profit for themselves and their mates at our expense.

EDIT: And I don’t mean necessarily minor countries. Consider only this: Trump could be US President = Money wins.

if the election exists for power-seeking arseholes to take the profit at our expense- what sense to go to the election for us? Is this circus exist as expensive tv-show - and we select nothing- why to participate in the show. Don’t know how you - but i ignore the putin’s election last 15 years;) Nothing is depend on us- why to lose time then?

Yeah the Kurds is a disaster for entire region. Seems the national-separation is waiting for Syria as well. Hard to reach a peace in society after civil war . This is however a pure cynism and act of agression toward the previously independent state - is the separation of Ukraine , folowed the crimea annextion , not the such an attempt to resolve the national troubles by dividing the teritories, which is damnable by the west?