As anyone who follows the news can clearly see, it isn’t going down well for the self-styled “Islamic State”. Having once held 1/3 of Iraq and 50% of Syria, their territory has shrunk dramatically since 2014. World powers have capitalised on their bloody rise to unite against them in unison with unsavoury regimes and groups, from the Assad fiefdom to Kata’ib Hezbollah. The destiny of Da’esh looks to be a return to sifting around in arid deserts, just as they did from 2008 onward.
At one point, Baghdadi’s men rampaged across Syria and Iraq in small yet devastating numbers. In Mosul, a mere 800 men drove off 60,000 Iraqi troops & took 2300 humvees. In Syria they used captured US weaponry and ruthless Blitzkrieg tactics to take over most of Syria’s east, including Deir Ezzor and much of Homs. In the Syrian deserts they twice overran hugely superior Russian, Syrian and Shi’a militia units to take over Palmyra (apparently utilising only several tens of men against 6000 opponents in the last battle). But it all went hideously wrong.
In short, it went wrong because they made the mistakes every over-ambitious conqueror has made from Alexander the Great to Hitler. They tried to take everything at once on too few resources. They expanded too far, tried to fight half the world at the same time on multiple fronts, and ended up losing everything in the process. Their empire was simply unsustainable. They compounded their error by believing in their own invincibility and mobilising huge numbers of enemies against them with the use of indiscriminate brutality.
In Syria, instead of working with the sincere Islamic groups, they described them as “apostates” for the vaguest of reasons, diligently fighting against what could have been erstwhile allies. This meant that, since 2013, they’ve had to fight both Assad’s forces, the revolutionary groups (in Idlib, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Homs) AND the PKK (see Kobane) all at once, sapping strength they could have used to concentrate on one enemy at a time and achieve victory.
In Iraq, they rampaged all the way to Baghdad, ostentatiously committing killings and filming them in the open – drawing in the superpowers, always hungry for a pretext to destroy Muslim countries and assert greater dominance. American helicopters drove their units off as they nearly grabbed Baghdad Airport. They compounded their error further by releasing videos showing the executions of all manner of western hostages, brazenly challenging huge superpowers like America and her allies to a tug of war they blatantly couldn’t win. Then when said powers intervened with a tide of airstrikes and troops, they acted incredulously and pretended to be the victims.
I just wonder what went on in Baghdadi’s head when he tried to challenge the whole world to a vastly unfair duel. “We could form an alliance with sincere Islamic groups, help liberate Syria and then use it as a beachhead to free Iraq’s Muslims from the slavery of the Iranian puppet regime… Or, we could fight everyone on several fronts at a time, alienate potential allies and make everyone hate us with vitriol.”
The latter was clearly their choice. What makes me so livid is the fact that they gambled away the lives and well-being of millions of Muslims to act like spoiled brats in a sweet shop. With great power comes great responsibility. Da’esh back-peddled on the Muslim communities of Syria and Iraq in their badly-planned war, lost it, and now those communities are suffering, in part due to this group’s complete lack of strategic thought. In terms of human life as well as in terms of property and wealth.
They deliberately hijacked a legitimate Sunni uprising in Iraq in 2014. Worse, they destroyed or repressed every other Islamic group that could have been a voice for Sunni discontent or armed Sunni resistance to the regime. As a result, many Muslims in Iraq and Syria have embraced them in despair. Not out of love, but due to the fact that the coalition’s Shi’a militiamen are highly likely to massacre their families and friends (as they have done on multiple occasions) if their territories fall. It has come down to a choice of a brutal death cult or wholesale slaughter of their loved ones, with their communities being driven into the desert to freeze to death by coalition forces.
Da’esh have brought incredible harm to the very Muslims they claim to defend. By massacring innocent civilians (and appallingly, young children too) in the west, they managed to give the western powers cynical pretexts to bomb Syria and Iraq and indiscriminately slaughter its Muslim populations. By trying to make themselves seem synonymous with the Muslim world in well-made propaganda videos, they have incensed huge levels of racism and bigotry against Muslims worldwide by cretins who can’t tell the difference between hundreds of millions of normal believers and several thousand lunatics. Of course, said bigotry would always have existed and been justified some way or another. But Da’esh willingly became a bogeyman which Russia, America, Britain and others could hold up as an excuse for their atrocities.
Although these countries of course are to blame for the genocidal massacres they commit, Da’esh undoubtedly share some of it for helping to bring about this situation in the first place, in which America bombs innocent people and justifies it by claiming they’re “families” of Baghdadi’s men, as if this is somehow an excuse for genocide.
They used (and continue to use) their propaganda to try and persuade weak-minded Muslims youths in the west to throw their lives away in pointless suicidal atrocities that not only take innocent life, but have no strategic value and encourage murderous atrocities directed against Muslim civilians by coalition bombs.
No group shouts as loudly as the fake “Islamic State”, and no group has brought such destruction to Muslims and their lands under the pretence of their protection.