ISIS is Losing Ground

The horror and devastation that the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its fighters have wrought on Iraq and Syria has been complete. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, fearful for their lives and the lives of their loved ones as ISIS tore through their cities and towns. Just last week, ISIS fighters stormed the ancient city of Palmyra and drove back opposition forces; many in the international community fear that ISIS will destroy the priceless artifacts.

ISIS fighters take Palmyra

ISIS fighters take Palmyra

In the wake of such atrocities, unprecedented expansion, and jaw-dropping support for ISIS, the logical question to ask would be whether ISIS will last. Is their whole state built on faulty foundations, reliant on scaring the populace and asserting control by filling power voids? In many ways, ISIS can be compared to the fearless Mongol fighters of the early 12th century CE. The Mongols were fierce warriors who tore through villages, burning and looting everything in their paths. They relied on fear tactics to subdue their subjects; for example, they paraded the heads of dissidents on sticks through towns and villages. However, in all their power and brutality, the Mongols only lasted for several decades. Better as conquerors than as rulers, the Mongols slowly ceded power to local authorities and blended into the cultures of their conquered subjects.

ISIS has lost over a quarter of its territory in recent months

ISIS has lost over a quarter of its territory in recent months

A similar phenomenon is occurring with ISIS, as CNN reports. Though ISIS has secured unprecedented gains in land, resources, and support over the past year, it now seems to be losing ground as its fear tactics and ferocious tenacity falter. Make no mistake, ISIS will still be a name people talk about for years to come. However, over the past few months, it has lost nearly a quarter of its territory in Iraq. A coalition of Kurdish fighters, Iraqi troops, and American air squads have relentlessly fought ISIS, pushing it back from key cities like Kobani. Even though Kobani’s victory came at a huge cost for the coalition forces, victories like Kobani seem to be slowly pushing back the monster that is ISIS. Furthermore, U.S. airstrikes have successfully destroyed crucial oil drilling stations in the territory of ISIS. This is crucial for the battle, because ISIS used to make an approximated $2 million every day from those oil fields and refineries. With the airstrikes, the oil exports and profits collected by ISIS have decreased by a whopping 90% in some areas, and by 70% on the whole.

However, when looking at this issue, it is important to understand that ISIS is not like anything the international community has dealt with before. ISIS calls itself a caliphate, so legitimacy is as important to it as land and resources. Because the coalition forces have begun to take back land, ISIS’s legitimacy has been badly hurt. As CNN reports, because of this, ISIS fighters have striven to take control of and destroy various archeological ruins, like those in Palmyra and Nimrud. They want to direct the attention away from their losses and re-emphasize their ferocity, which plays directly into their legitimacy. This is why they filmed themselves killing refugees at Yarmouk and Ramadi. They are trying desperately to reinforce their legitimacy, but as Afzal Ashraf, a counter-insurgency specialist from the Royal United Services Institute, puts it, “Where it counts they [ISIS] are not standing and fighting.”


One Comment

  1. Beatrice Brown says:

    God’s law says “good always wins over evil”so evil will always find themselves on sinking sand and nobody can change that.

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