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World View                                      The Portugal News • 16 Feb 2019 17
                                                                         News


      The End of Isis                                                                                     N N N N N  GWYNNE DYER




      Last Wednesday Donald Trump said: “It should be announced, probably some time next week, that we will have 100% of the
      (ISIS) caliphate.” Well, it is next week now, and by the weekend Trump will probably have made exactly that announcement.
      He will be right, too: ISIS as a major threat has been defeated for good.

               number of other claims will then  called itself al-Nusra, and now it trades
              be made in short order. Trump, of  as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Organisation
              course, will claim that it is his  for the Liberation of the Levant), but it is  Soldiers of the
                                                                                Soldiers of the
                                                                                Soldiers of the
                                                                                Soldiers of the
                                                                                Soldiers of the
      Avictory and only his, although he   still al-Qaeda in all but name. And there  Iraqi
                                                                                Iraqi
                                                                                Iraqi
                                                                                Iraqi
                                                                                Iraqi
      was actually only carrying through with the  is one place in Syria where al-Qaeda  Emergency
                                                                                Emergency
                                                                                Emergency
                                                                                Emergency
                                                                                Emergency
                                                                                Response
      strategy laid down by Barack Obama. On  does control territory despite the late Bin  Response
                                                                                Response
                                                                                Response
                                                                                Response
                                                                                Brigade forces
                                                                                Brigade forces
                                                                                Brigade forces
                                                                                Brigade forces
      the other hand, give him credit for having  Laden’s views: Idlib province in the  Brigade forces
                                                                                (ERB) take
                                                                                (ERB) take
                                                                                (ERB) take
                                                                                (ERB) take
      the wit to stick to that strategy, even though  north-west, hard up against the Turkish  (ERB) take
                                                                                part in a field
                                                                                part in a field
                                                                                part in a field
                                                                                part in a field
      he missed no opportunity to trash    border.                              part in a field
                                                                                training and
                                                                                training and
                                                                                training and
                                                                                training and
                                                                                training and
      Obama’s achievements.                The Idlib enclave came into being more  parade to
                                                                                parade to
                                                                                parade to
                                                                                parade to
                                                                                parade to
      Various other people, mostly in      or less by default, because that was  commemorate
                                                                                commemorate
                                                                                commemorate
                                                                                commemorate
                                                                                commemorate
      Washington, will hasten to point out that  where Syrian rebel groups were sent  the victory
                                                                                the victory
                                                                                the victory
                                                                                the victory
                                                                                the victory
      ISIS is far from defunct as an       when they surrendered to Assad’s     over the
                                                                                over the
                                                                                over the
                                                                                over the
                                                                                over the
      organisation. It is losing the last of the  government elsewhere in Syria. As a  Islamic State
                                                                                Islamic State
                                                                                Islamic State
                                                                                Islamic State
                                                                                Islamic State
                                                                                (IS) group at a
      territory it once held, but it carried out lots  result the province’s population has  (IS) group at a
                                                                                (IS) group at a
                                                                                (IS) group at a
                                                                                (IS) group at a
                                                                                military base
                                                                                military base
                                                                                military base
                                                                                military base
      of terrorist attacks before it controlled  doubled to 3 million people, and over the  military base
                                                                                in Baghdad,
                                                                                in Baghdad,
                                                                                in Baghdad,
                                                                                in Baghdad,
      any territory. It will continue to do so after  past year al-Qaeda has fought a series of  in Baghdad,
                                                                                Iraq, 10
                                                                                Iraq, 10
                                                                                Iraq, 10
                                                                                Iraq, 10
      it has lost it all again. You can’t ‘defeat’  small wars that brought all the other  Iraq, 10
                                                                                December
                                                                                December
                                                                                December
                                                                                December
                                                                                December
      terrorism; you can only contain it.  rebel groups there under its control.  2018. (Photo:
                                                                                2018. (Photo:
                                                                                2018. (Photo:
                                                                                2018. (Photo:
                                                                                2018. (Photo:
      ISIS (Islamic state in Iraq and Syria) was  So Al-Qaeda in Idlib now controls a  EPA/Murtaja
                                                                                EPA/Murtaja
                                                                                EPA/Murtaja
                                                                                EPA/Murtaja
                                                                                EPA/Murtaja
      a group that broke away from Osama Bin  border, has significant resources, and  Lateef)
                                                                                Lateef)
                                                                                Lateef)
                                                                                Lateef)
                                                                                Lateef)
      Laden’s original fundamentalist jihadi  commands around 50,000 fighting men.
      organisation, al-Qaeda, and the main  It is a state for all practical purposes,  Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003
      reason for the rupture was that some  although for doctrinal reasons al-Qaeda  finally die down, but it will come. And as       Gwynne Dyer is an
                                                                                                                                      Gwynne Dyer is an
                                                                                                                                      Gwynne Dyer is an
                                                                                                                                      Gwynne Dyer is an
                                                                                                                                      Gwynne Dyer is an
                                                                                                                                      independent
                                                                                                                                      independent
      members thought the time was ripe to  avoids using the term – and as a state it is  the flood-waters recede the political       independent
                                                                                                                                      independent
                                                                                                                                      independent
                                                                                                                                      journalist whose
                                                                                                                                      journalist whose
                                                                                                                                      journalist whose
                                                                                                                                      journalist whose
      create an actual Islamic caliphate. Bin  an appropriate target for an army to  landscape will re-emerge almost                  journalist whose
                                                                                                                                      articles are
                                                                                                                                      articles are
                                                                                                                                      articles are
                                                                                                                                      articles are
      Laden disagreed, so they defied him  destroy. When will that happen?      unchanged, apart from a little more                   articles are
                                                                                                                                      published in 45
                                                                                                                                      published in 45
                                                                                                                                      published in 45
                                                                                                                                      published in 45
      and created ‘Islamic State’ anyway.  It depends on when Russia and Turkey  democracy in Iraq and quite a lot less in            published in 45
                                                                                                                                      countries.
                                                                                                                                      countries.
                                                                                                                                      countries.
                                                                                                                                      countries.
                                                                                                                                      countries.
      At its peak, in mid-2015, Islamic State  decide to do something about it. The  Turkey.
      controlled around half the territory of  Turkish government used to support
      both Syria and Iraq and ruled over more  various rebel Islamist militias against
      than seven million people. It looked  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but all
      impressive, but it was only possible  its local allies have now been
      because the Syrian government was    subjugated by al-Qaeda, which Turkish
      fighting (and, at that point, losing) a civil  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is
      war, while Iraq was greatly weakened  much less enthusiastic about.
      after the withdrawal of American troops.  Russia has never supported any Islamist
      Later in 2015, Russia intervened on the  forces and would happily help Assad to
      side of the Syrian regime, which has now  take back all of Idlib tomorrow. However,
      won its civil war, and the return of  Moscow currently hopes to detach
      American troops to Iraq enabled that  Turkey from NATO and turn it into an ally,
      government to recover all its territory by  and therefore probably won’t move
      mid-2017. The last villages in Syria that  against al-Qaeda until Erdogan gives it a
      were once part of Islamic State will be  green light. That may take some time.
      recaptured this week, whereupon Trump  There is also the question of what
      will bring the US troops in Syria home –  happens to the Syrian Kurds, who allied
      and the surviving ISIS fighters will revert  themselves to the United States and
      to simple terrorism.                 carried the main military burden of
      Bin Laden was right: ISIS’s great    destroying Islamic State in Syria. They
      mistake was to create a target, an actual  hoped to get independence from Syria,
      state, that could be successfully attacked  or at least autonomy within Syria, as a
      by an army. Various armies duly did just  reward for their efforts, but Turkey will
      that, and now Islamic State is gone –  not allow that and in the end the US will
      while al-Qaeda, the parent organisation,  betray them. Again, however, this may
      carries on.  But it no longer uses that  take some time.
      name in Syria, as it attracts unwelcome  So it could be a year yet before the wars
      Western attention.                   that have ravaged the greater Middle
      For years al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch   East since the American invasions of
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