ISLAMIC STATE – Downfall of the Caliphate

Introduction

The Islamic State stands on the brink of a twin defeat. Mosul, the largest city under its control, has entirely
fallen from its grasp, and Kurdish-led forces are advancing into its de facto capital of Raqqa. The Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights announced that it had confirmed news that Islamic State Supreme leader Abu
Bakr al- Baghdadi has been killed in battle. The last sectors of Mosul recaptured by the Iraqi Army lay in
shambles as the news announced the death knoll of IS.
Russian Defence Ministry had already announced in June that it might have killed Baghdadi when one of its
air strikes hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders meeting place on the outskirts of the Syrian city and
head Quarters of Islamic State – Raqqa. Badghdadi was actively present in the eastern Syrian countryside war
zone around Deir al-Zor.
Baghdadi’s death, who declared a ‘Caliphate’ governed by Islamic Law, from a mosque in Mosul in 2014
,would be the biggest blow to the Islamic State, which is trying to defend its last shrinking territory in Syria.
The US put up a $ 25 million reward for his capture, the same amount as it had offered for al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden and his successor Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri. The world can’t easily forget the unbelievable
dare- devil act of Baghdadi on 4 July 2014,who climbed the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval al- Nuri mosque in
black clerical garb to announce the restoration Islamic State caliphate. The announcement was followed by an
exodus of jihadi volunteers to Raqqa from all over the world to become ‘Jung al-Khilafa’ or ‘soldiers of the
caliphate’.
At the heights of its power , Islamic State ruled over millions of people in territory running from northern
Syria through towns and villages along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys to the outskirts of the Iraqi
capital Bagdad.
Future of Middle East – Post Islamic State
The Islamic State’s territorial setbacks have introduced new questions about the basic future of the Middle
East. The United States Can’t withdraw from the Middle East easily.
The defeat of the Islamic State as a “state” will leave two serious questions facing the United States. The
first is: Who will fill the spaces from which the jihadi group is driven out? There is a clear effort by the new
Iran-Hezbollah-Shiite militia-Russia coalition to reply: “We will.”
That is an answer the United States will obviously, reject. Such a development would cement an anti-
American coalition in place, threaten Jordan and Israel, and leave Iran the dominant power in the region. To
reject this challenge verbally would be a joke, however; it must be resisted on the ground, through the use
of force by a coalition that must be built and led by the United States.
The conflict in Syria has destroyed any possibility of an easy formula for putting that country back together,
but in the present scenario, one can envision a discussion with Russia – how US interests and theirs, can be
accommodated while bringing the violence down to a level that allows many refugees to return home. But that
discussion will achieve nothing unless American power first gains Russian respect and the Russians come to
realize that compromise is necessary.
Even in the best-case scenario, with the Islamic State defeated and losing its control over a “state,” it may
continue to exist as a terrorist group — and in any event al Qaeda and other jihadi groups will not disappear.
So the second question is: How do the US proceed against Sunni jihadi radical groups who continue to plot
against the United States? It should be clear that Shiite domination of the region will help fuel these Sunni
groups and assist in their recruiting at home and in distant Sunni lands. And the perception of American
acquiescence or complicity in that domination will help make the United States a larger target.
These apprehensions lead to an unwelcome conclusion — The defeat of the Islamic State will not end US
involvement in the Middle East conflicts and may, in fact, lead it to further increased involvement. There will
be no repeat of the Iraq wars, with vast American armies on the ground, but there will be a need for a long
continuation of the sort of commitment we see today: perhaps 5,000 troops in Iraq, 1,000 in Syria, 1,000 to
2,000 in Jordan, and many more in the 6th Fleet and in bases in the region from which the United States can
exert power.
As long as Iran tries to dominate the entire region and Sunni jihadi groups target the United States, the
defeat of the Islamic State changes- but does not diminish-America’s stake in Middle East power politics.
For most of the United States’ allies in the Middle East, the war against the Islamic State never was the
primary concern. Even as Western nations decreed this struggle a universal priority, these nations largely
humored Washington, echoed its alarm, joined its international coalition — and looked the other way. Almost
from the start, their gaze was fixed on the wars after the war against the Islamic State.
For Turkey, what mattered was the fight against Kurds, and for Kurds a self-determination struggle; for
Saudi Arabia and Iran, their regional contest took priority; within the Sunni Arab world, competition between
the more Islamist (Qatar and Turkey) and the less so (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates) was viewed as
existential; among Iraqis, a sectarian and ethnic race for post-conflict spoils had pride of place. The counter-
Islamic State campaign always served as an imperfect cover for regional conflicts and contradictions. With the
Islamic State increasingly in the rearview mirror, these will be laid bare.
When the dust settles, US will confront a Middle East struggling with familiar demons. It will also face its
own familiar dilemma: How deeply should it get involved? Allies will plead for it to leap into the fray. They
know Washington’s current predilections and will cater to them, dressing up raw power plays in more
appealing garb. President Donald Trump’s administration is preoccupied with countering terrorism,
combating Iran, and -no less important – doing whatever former President Barack Obama did not. That’s how
America’s allies will frame their respective pursuits.
There is evidence already. Saudi Arabia and the UAE presented their war in Yemen as pushback against
Tehran and their attempt to bring Qatar to heel as an anti-Iranian and anti-terrorist gambit. Syria’s Kurds,
fearful of being jettisoned by Washington once their utility in the anti-Islamic State fight is exhausted,
champion themselves as long-term bulwarks against Iranian influence and Turkish-inspired Islamism — while
Ankara paints those same Kurds with a broad terrorist brush. Egypt masquerades its indiscriminate intolerance of all Islamists as a holy battle against terrorism.
Conclusion
All concerned nations assert that the particular brand of U.S. activism they crave contrasts with Obama’s
alleged passivity, which they bemoan. They know their target audience. They play to it.The Trump
administration will be tempted to take sides and take the plunge, but it would be a losing bet.
The optimal way to secure U.S. interests in a post-Islamic State world, is to abstain from joining any
coalition which may intensify conflicts over which it has little ultimate say. If US fails to play its cards
well,that would unleash the very chaos and sectarianism from which the terrorist group was born and on which it thrives. It is to de-escalate proxy wars, broker a Saudi-Qatari deal, press for an end to the Yemen war, stick to a measured stance toward political Islam, and lower tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran — indeed, for that matter, between the United States and Iran.

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