What does the future of the Islamic State look like in the wake of its battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria? Can it sustain itself as a movement drawing in sympathizers and recruits from around the world? The Islamic State’s setbacks may not necessarily hurt the broader jihadi movement that fed it.
The Last Days of ISIS
In the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the cost of retaking a city and beating back the extremists is the destruction of much of the ground they held. This is most evident in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s declared capital in northern Syria, which was retaken in October, and where little is left.
The Syrian civil war is drawing to a close, at least in the way that the traditional conflict dynamics have been understood since 2011. The situation on the ground is not desirable for neighboring Turkey, to say the least, which is scrambling to salvage a failed foreign policy that overstated Turkish influence.