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Recent Victories Over the Islamic State are Worth Celebrating, but the Fight is far From Over
By admin October 19, 2017

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It’s been over three years since Western media sources broadcast images of militants storming across the Iraq-Syria border while the Iraqi military fled south, leaving behinds billions of dollars worth of military equipment and millions of civilians to the wrath of a new enemy, the Islamic State. The news shocked the United States and its allies, which spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq to stabilize and rebuild the country during most of a decade. After a lengthy, coordinated effort, the Islamic State has lost its stronghold in Iraq and most of its vital territory in Syria, including its declared “capital” of Raqqa, which fell to an Arab-Kurdish joint force this week. Although there is much to celebrate, coalition partners and the West must accept that the threat of ISIS is far from neutralized.

Detainees in American prisons created the Islamic State during the Iraq War as an extension of Al Qaeda. The group has shocked the world with their very conservative interpretation of Islam that has led to brutal violence against civilians, especially sexual violence against women, with sexual slavery ramped throughout their controlled areas. After multiple terrorist attacks on Western countries, which targeted France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, coalition partners coordinated their attacks with militias, Kurdish Peshmerga, and the Iraqi military to defeat the Islamic State.

This summer, ISIS lost its major stronghold of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, after a yearlong bloody siege that killed nearly 40,000 civilians. Now this week ISIS has lost its capital of Raqqa, pushing the group into a small edge of Syria, which includes the major town of Deir Al Zor, and parts of the western Iraqi desert. Although these victories against the Islamic State are things to celebrate, it must be clear that the threat from the Islamic State is far from being nullified. Even though the group has lost large amounts of its occupied areas in Syria and Iraq, the group has spread to more than ten countries, including Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Philippines. These countries have upwards of several thousand insurgents that are gaining momentum and planning attacks around the world. Besides American led airstrikes, coalition partners have little planned to curb this rising threat, as security chiefs in both the United Kingdom and the United States have recently warned of a 9/11 level attack in the West somewhere in the next year.

While politicians in Washington, D.C. boast about recent victories, the United States and its coalition partners must stay focused and rebalance its military strategies against the group to prevent another attack that could pull the country into a quagmire in Libya or Yemen. Along with coordinated airstrikes, coalition partners must continue to work with governments through soft power to stabilize their nations, as ISIS can only find roots in a country among instability, as seen during the Syrian Civil War.

Further Reading:

ISIS Warns of 9/11 Attack

Mapped: The battle against ISIL

Islamic State has lost its capital in Syria: What happens now?

The Ignominious End of the ISIS Caliphate


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