Lebanon, Turkey, France, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, US would be proof enough that ISIS has branched out successfully its operations and is now leading independently coordinated attacks around the world. It seems that the organization is no longer operating under one leadership but has replaced al-Baghdadi with scout leaders chaperoning different cells around the world.
What had seemed to be an elaborate plan to establish itself as an Islamic State with delineated borders – starting off from Mosul, Iraq – and an enslaved nation, is slowly turning into independent singular attacks, with an aim to instill terror and not necessarily advance its initial plan.
The Islamic State was initially established to fight governments and establish one of its own. Now that this seems farfetched, it has turned to “guerilla terrorism:” planned attacks but aimed at civilians having dinner or in the streets; but in doing so, it has also boosted an international military and diplomatic cooperation that was so far on standstill.
What appeared to be a cold war between world and regional powers since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011 is now viewed again as a war against terror. The diplomatic failures between world powers have pushed the world into a limbo, with a status-quo allowing ISIS and its offshoots to gain time in branching out.
ISIS had sleeping cells in various countries, but the high level of security and vigilance has pushed these cells to be even quieter. Nevertheless, the massive international influx of migrants has provided ISIS with a new opportunity: a safety travel plan.
The latest Lebanon and Paris bombings, 12 and 13 November 2015, respectively highlight this new ISIS strategy. Infiltrating into migrants and refugees, thus facilitating the international movements of its jihadists. The apparent aim is to break international barriers and perhaps even start an internal system of disintegration whereby despair and fear of the migrants and Islamic communities established in Europe will cause communities to fight each other and instill in every society a tribe-like mindset “if we don’t kill them first, they’ll kill us”. Although France has officially re-established border control, fear seems to be a wake up call.
ISIS has proven times and times again its flagrant loss of humanity and its tribe-like fighting. The root for their extremism is yet to be determined but one thing brings terrorists together… they have nothing to lose. The distortion of the Quran, the bloodbath that they cause and the barbarity that they try to convey are signs of desperation –not a sign of strength. The latest targeting of civilians in various countries from the Middle East to Europe – some of them inflicting massive losses, others failing to do so – is their weakness. With tighter communication and more governmental “eyes and ears in the sky” terrorists will find themselves more isolated from their headquarters, be it in Iraq or Syria, and more on their own.
As a terrorist group aiming to expand, ISIS was strong into advancing its members and operations but weaker in maintaining its position in various cities. It comes as no surprise that its strategy is now shifting from a well-studied plan to singular militia attacks. The mastermind might be in Syria but not necessarily successfully carried out. Is this new style – random shootings and decentralization –a sign of desperation, the end of ISIS?
The Iranian deal successfully achieved. Russia extensively carrying out targeted air-raids in Syria. US-led coalition attacking ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Iran being invited to talks on Syria. Peshmerga forces regaining control of key cities including Mount Sinjar… G20 meeting with closed talks between presidents Obama and Puttin. France bombing ISIS site – Raqqa in Syria. Since the bold surfacing of ISIS, it is the first time perhaps that all governments are eager to eradicate it.
The October 23rd talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry shed light on the fact that Bashar al-Assad is not the headline anymore, but part of a sought transitional period with the formation of an anti-ISIS coalition being discussed. The international rhetoric has completely changed; Russian-US coordination is now crucial, defeating ISIS is paramount.
It is war. The Belgium crackdown on the cell connected to the Paris attack and the 150 security raids [as of the time of writing] carried out by French police are the beginning of an extensive set of steps that the world will endure.
When ISIS was thought to be secluded to the Middle East, the war against it was conditional. But its new strategy of international disorder might have just caused its downfall.
There are various ramifications for the end of ISIS; the Kurdish matter, the Syrian presidency, the Iraqi settlement, Yemen, Turkey, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, etc. Nevertheless, not settling the latter issues does not mean not defeating ISIS on the ground. Political interests might diverge but today, their enemy is the same.
The end of ISIS will not be determined in the coming week, but it’s definitely in that direction that world powers have decided to embark now that terrorism is no longer acting as a group. It is acting as one independent extremist at a time making the detection of their communication an even more difficult task to track down but a higher incentive to eradicate it. It’s a dual war, internally and internationally and for them, right now having Assad, as Syria’s president, seems to be part of this essential military war against ISIS.
Published in L’Indro: http://www.lindro.it/lisis-elemento-di-terrore-internazionale/