Islamic State is under military pressure. How much does it matter?

According to reports Syrian troops reach edge of Raqqa and there is also push for Fallujjah in Iraq. So it seems that various forces starting to be militarily successful fighting ISIS But in your opinion how important are those military successes in a broader context (political, societal) of struggle against ISIS? Read few comments.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University, Author of Bin Laden’s Legacy

The pressure on ISIS in Raqqa and Fallujah is real and meaningful. ISIS has made one strategic error after another from the time of its first advance into Iraq, putting itself at war with all the major players on the ground and failing to build a real constituency that actually wants to see ISIS win. The organization has been under extreme military pressure for an extended period, and now it is seemingly losing its grip. Beyond the situation in Raqqa and Fallujah, ISIS has to worry about its reversals rapidly mounting, in turn magnifying internal schisms in the group.

In the broader context, my biggest concern is that the post-ISIS order won’t mollify Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis, and that Sunni citizens will be subjected to atrocities or persecution. Sunnis living under ISIS rule in the Syria-Iraq region have reason to be apprehensive or even fearful about the advance of both Iran-backed Shia militias and Kurdish forces. So the military successes against ISIS are real, but the question now needs to shift to prevention of atrocities as ISIS’s presence recedes and better governance in a post-ISIS order, so that the tragic situation of the past couple of years doesn’t end up repeating itself yet again.

Ramzy Mardini, Nonresident Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council

These military success are having a major effect in the fight against ISIS. The reason why is become it undermines the myth of their military superiority and delegitimizes them as ineffective and incompetent on the battlefield. The group is facing many organizational, logistical and internal problems. It is becoming harder to recruit, and more difficult to pay their fighters. This was always going to be an inevitable outcome. The Islamic State has no alliances and are encircled by enemies.

The goal of the United States was to undermine the Islamic State’s symbolic power by going after its capital Raqqa. The logic is that a defeat in its capital will deter foreign fighters from traveling to Syria.

The major problem for the anti-ISIS forces is not in militarily defeating ISIS, but rather reestablishing post-ISIS governance. How will day-to-day security be administered? Who will have control and political authority over these territories? How do the pieces of the state fit together? The answers to these questions remains unclear. This is why even as ISIS is declining in power, more and more observers are doubting whether the state of Iraq and Syria remains intact.

Rodger Shanahan, Research Fellow, Lowy Institute for International Policy

The overall anti-IS campaign plan by the US has been based on a degrade mission – slowly targeting key sources of IS’s strength and the slowly ratcheting up the pressure as conditions allow. IS are feeling the impact of this strategy and being forced to fight against multiple opponents on different fronts is weakening them every week.

Ahmed Salah Hashim, Associate Professor of Strategic Studies, Deputy Coordinator in the Military Studies Programme, The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University

Military success in Syria and Iraq against IS is not sufficient, they will revert to terrorism and guerrilla warfare as they lose land. Syria and Iraq need political solutions guaranteed by international guarantees otherwise we will see a continuation of the violence and brutality.


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