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Is ISIS Losing its Ground?

Amit Lokhande writes: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group that swept across Iraq and Syria in 2014, it seems is now losing its ground.

Amit Lokhande writes: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group that swept across Iraq and Syria in 2014, it seems is now losing its ground. ISIS is unable to hold its territories and is now only focussing on the glory of the battles. The group lacks strategic thinking. This is true when we look at the decisions taken by the group. While on one side the ISIS was fighting with the Iraqi Army to the east, and Syrian rebels and Al-Nusra front to the west, on the other side the group attacked the well organised Kurdish Peshmerga in the north. Though, the Kurdish Peshmerga was initially taken aback by the surprise attack, but they came back hard with American led intervention, (as the American supported them with arms and ammunitions).  Also, in military strategy, fighting a multi front war is not advisable, as it is a challenge which often brings setbacks; hence the ISIS has erred in not following the basic military strategy, which has ultimately diluted their stand.

The beheadings, even though effective in the short term, are not at all effective in the long term. Consider what had happened when the American journalist James Foley was publicly beheaded, there was world outrage, the American airstrikes bolstered in retaliation, and this event had generated public sympathy for the American intervention in Iraq. These airstrikes were ineffective earlier without the ground forces, but the Americans and the Iranians had an informal alliance when it came to dealing with ISIS.  So these airstrikes along with the Shia militia and Peshmerga land forces became a potent force to counter the ISIS threat. This also gave a huge blow to ISIS because they were not prepared for a joint attack by the Americans as well as the Shia militia and Peshmerga. They probably presumed that Iran and United States of America wouldn’t coordinate to fight against them.

The American-French-Russian airstrikes had attacked strategic targets like oil containers, supply lines and oil fields, as they believed that these were a potent source of economy for ISIS. In January 2016, in Mosul, a building holding cash reserves, (which were obtained from oil smuggling, extortion and taxes) was blown apart.  Since then the ISIS is facing an economic crunch, and an earlier report suggests that ISIS, irrespective of the rank of the soldiers, have tried to reduce the salaries of its army by half. This shows that something is seriously going wrong in the organisation. Since they do not have a stable source of income, and ISIS has enemies on all its fronts, with no active friends, this group in future may be reduced to just an insurgent/terrorist group rather than  becoming a  caliphate which they proclaimed when the violence started.


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