Isis returns to its insurgent roots

FT News


ISIS is returning to its insurgent roots having been driven out of almost all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria four years after ISIS controlled as much as a third of Iraq declared a caliphate. It is retrenched, but it's still the power to carry out kidnappings killings and bombings. Khloe? Cornish took to Andrew England about the continuing threat posed by the group to stability in the region. In two thousand fourteen ISIS notes the blitz across Iraq and Syria. And at one point I think they control about third of Iraq and major cities in both countries. What's been happening in the last couple of years since the caliphate will the self declared caliphate has been defeated all the situation being in terms of how they've been pushed back from their strongholds. Rockford. It'd be Iraqi government declared a military victory over I his about this time. I should having won back control of major urban areas. Which I is it invaded include the northern city of Mosul Iraq's second largest city. So that was a fight that nasty three and number players involved. That's the fighters from the Iraqi army which had initially kinda crumbled in two thousand fourteen faced with the ISIS insurgency, you have Kurdish vices mcken fun region. You also had low of shin initial groups who had formed pretty much in response to the ISIS threats that was facing Europe. It was big big movement to mobilize additional fighters to protect the country. And a lot of those groups actually have a radian bucking. So all of these people working not always very well together. There was also west and involvement as well. Intensive ashtrays on ISIS targets in Iraq. So that's how that fight with paying out. And then in Syria, the situation is actually more complicated because the fight against ISIS is just one really the much larger civil war. So in Syria, ISIS territory was concentrated in the north east of the country on the big cities rocker and data which probably will be familiar to people. Now, you will probably see the social glasses destination of those cities under the weight of US leda strikes. So in Syria, ISIS is in fighting on the one hand Russian-backed pro regime Syrian forces with Iranian involvement and on the other hand US backed Syrian rebels. So it's actually been facing kind of both sides of the civil war and Russia and their Resor fell from ISIS control this year amid much lodge. Hush by the feeling of as well, so retake areas in the south the country. So there was basically a big effort by local and international forces to push them back in both countries. What do we know about what remains in terms of the ISIS fighters? Isis supporters across these two companies. At one point in August, the US apartment defense was saying there about three thousand ISIS fighters in this pocket in Syria, the this territory they control, but it's very important to be cautious about them. The I think it's very hard for us to know, exactly. How many fighters they're all lest and how many schools is they have across Iraq and Syria. But we do know where I this is holed up in Iraq. They've got we think they is in the hammering mountains, which a very very Thakin offense mountains kinda the middle of a rock, and they don't say tax from that. And then they will they will have more bases a more positions in northerner as well. And there's continuing worry about sleeper cells of ISIS, fighters and other parts of the country as well. You mentioned the being pushed out of the major cities they controlled in the major church they controlled house they adopted the way the carrying out attacks. Because they do continue to pose a threat as we've mentioned. Yeah. Absolutely. I just thought it at a terrorist insurgency and then gained these huge swathes of territory. Very frightening. Modern two thousand fourteen and what they've done is returned to the insurgent route that they came from much smaller terror attacks people just disappeared into the desert rose and trying to hold her Trie. So that seems to be the strategy now is to continue to destabilize these areas with smaller hit and run attacks, but still deadly unfortunately for civilians and officials who have against targeted in Iraq. What impact is that heaven? I mean, obviously in Iraq this chiefs ways the county Sedikh control, which has to be rebuilt about reconstruction. The need to get people who were forced out of the homes back and these areas which always felt very marginalized slightly by bike dad and was a new government in Baghdad. What impact is it having? Terms of Iraq and Iraq's ability to build on the security gains. And then in Syria where we're seeing the civil war is winding down as prison. Bouchara sats voices have reclaimed control of most of the country and get mentioning just how much progress hasn't Nate unsecurity interactions on his was holding touchy. Yes, they all these kinds of attacks. But the Iraqi security forces constellation is vice is happening execution type outweigh. However, you know, is people continue to feel threatened by ISIS attacks that really undermines any kind of official assets to restore stability in the sense of security as well in these places. I think it called me stress. Just how dangerous life can still feel. I think in face it might be better than before. But if I this is coming to your village and killed the most important tests and in that village issue the local chief, which is confident analyst of seen them doing. That contributes to a sense of instability in Syria. This is the of most active fighting still in Syria to try and expel ISIS from the last pockets territory, and so you have continual battle casualties that. But of the overall civil War, I suppose, the American involvement there is the most important thing because America's said it's in Syria in order to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, and so obviously the longer that they have to fight. I enjoy the longer they're gonna be there they north. They started to link that crisis in Syria to Iranian presence as well. And they want to be honest to see Iranian forces in Iranian proxy forces also being expelled from Syria. But the continuing bustle against I means America continues to have military presence into it as well. At one point when they controlled large areas in Syrian Iraqi Lee had oil resources that smuggling results the customs, they had taxes, etc. How they survive today. Does this indicate that perhaps they still have certain areas where they still have support. What do we know about what sustaining them? I guess it's important to stress how wealthy ISIS was at one point. It had opened up by volts that had huge oil revenues, and they invested some of that money into companies anything for money exchanges car dealership, and I think it's pretty hard for the authorities actually pinpoint which companies they beat in order to to function or stop them from operating. So what we understand believe that they get revenues from these companies, they also can stop and extort trucks on roads, and that kind of thing, so certainly they've knees are much much diminished. They are much much week before the nab were, but they do still have revenue. Streams coming in one of the notable things about twenty fourteen was her the Iraqi security forces, which the Americans have spent billions of dollars rebuilding of the invasion in two thousand and free melted away when they were faced with the fruit of ISIS, how it quits to the Iraqi forces. Forces to continue maintaining the offensive against ISIS and prevent a resurgence. I mean that would seem to be one of the critical things going forward. I think we'd have to say that the Iraqi forces are stronger than they were full. However, the US department defense expect to general recall, I said, I've how the fight against ISIS going. Deep highlight socks. They didn't think Americans would be able to leave Iraq anytime soon intensive needing to keep providing support to the Iraqi security forces one of the things that diplomats stress here as well, which they sometimes feel like they're not being heard back in their home capitals. Is that I it is not done thing. He's quite far off didn't thing in the and in that regard is going to need to be continuing the just ical and probably material support full voltage contracting. Is it not an easy thing to do counterinsurgency is in some ways. Much harder execute than ground offensive in love wage. You know, you don't know coming from. It's a difficult thing to do. And certainly the Americans in fact that the Iraqis are going to need help with it for the foreseeable featuring ever since the US invasion in two thousand and free ousted Saddam Hussein the have been sectarian shoes and publicity extremism in a country, which is now run by the Shia majority, people would say that's helped fuel the extremism that ISIS has been able to tap into. Do you think that those issues have been tackled have been dealt with? And how important will that be going forward when the new government in Baghdad looks to rebuild and reconstruct areas that came under ISIS control? I mean, exactly as you say they'd been real continuity in fans is a long-standing trending towards extreme in amongst some communities in Iraq sent doesn't three hundred before is well and the government now needs to do. It can to restore service days and its authority in some of these areas happen just so badly damaged by war. But we're also neglected before the ISIS insurgency and before people decided to join you can see. So, you know, it was just politics and conflicts, very localized in Iraq. But you can see there was a broader trend towards any extremes. And I think actually that has been a swing by though. I mean, I was just so brutal. That polling suggested the obscene. He's actually will let in favor of more hardline version of is not not the people. So I did. So in some senses, they lost support that says to me in a country where there have been real kind of weaponization and sectarian identity. This is not a problem. That's going to go away without tackling some of the courses.

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