Thursday, July 14, 2016

IS prepares for the end (of holding territory)

Islamic State readies for fall of 'caliphate'

It's pretty much gone as I expected.   They'll be dangerous for some time yet, of course, due to "off shore" terrorism.  (And within Iraq, of course.  Can you imagine the nightmare of policing a re-captured IS controlled city with a huge underground resistance?)   But a couple of other observations:

a.  the ABC has recently run a story with interviews of captured IS fighters in northern Iraq (all de-bearded and not looking like crazed killers at the moment) in which they complain that they were (and remain) motivated by their bad former treatment at the hands of the Iraqi Shiite controlled army.  This makes it all the more plain that with the overthrow of Saddam and the major revival within Iraq of the old internal Islamic sectarian conflict, the ultimate effects of the war were not containable within Iraq.  A reasonable sounding summary of the effect of the war appears today at Gulf News, actually:
Likewise, before they started the war, many policymakers believed that democracy would emerge quickly once Saddam was gone. Ensuring that such fundamental and consequential assumptions are tested by “red teams” — those not supporting the associated policy — should be standard operating procedure.

There is also the reality that removing governments, as difficult as that can be, is not nearly as difficult as creating the security that a new government needs to consolidate its authority and earn legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Creating anything like a democracy in a society lacking many of its most basic prerequisites is a task of decades, not months.

The report said little about the legacy of the Iraq War, but it is important to consider. First and foremost, the war disrupted the regional balance of power. No longer in a position to distract and balance Iran, Iraq instead came under Iranian influence. Iran was free not just to develop a
meaningful nuclear programme, but also to intervene directly and via proxies in several countries. Sectarian fighting poisoned relations between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the region. The alienation felt by soldiers and officers of Saddam’s disbanded army fuelled Sunni
insurgency and, ultimately, led to the rise of Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

b.  How's the cyberwar against IS on line propaganda going?   Both the US military and private hacker  groups said they would be fighting them in cyberspace, but we hear very little about how that's gone.

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