March 22, 2016


Will the Islamic State Group Survive 2016? (Metin Gurcan, 3/22/16, Al-Monitor)

Following spectacular combat gains for two years, the Islamic State (IS) is on the defensive in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, IS lost 14% of the territory it once controlled. It has lost another 8% in just the first three months of this year, according to a new study from IHS Jane's 360.

If IS continues to lose territory at the same pace, some people believe the year 2016 could well be its last. [...]

Jacob Zen of the Jamestown Foundation, which closely follows IS activities in the Middle East and Eurasia, says IS might make it to the end of 2016, but most likely only as a shadow of its current self.

"I expect IS will be able to still hold out at Mosul and Raqqa in 2016, because the attention of international and Syrian counter-insurgency forces is primarily devoted to resolving other issues, such as in northwestern Syria, where Afrin province is hotly contested. But at some point in the near future -- perhaps next year in 2017 -- I expect that a range of international forces, and Iraqi and possibly also Syrian forces, will finally commit to removing IS from Raqqa and Mosul. At that time, I do not think IS will have the power to defend those cities, even if its militants are able to put up a strong defense," he told Al-Monitor.

"The loss of these two cities will likely lead to some IS members defecting back to al-Qaeda" as they realize that the latter was correct in predicting that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the IS caliphate prematurely, before IS was strong enough to sustain the territory. Defectors might conclude that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri's gradual approach "is the more effective way to create a sustainable caliphate," he added.

Posted by at March 22, 2016 1:45 PM