Syrian Kurdish militia warns against ISIS revival
“The absence of a clear, comprehensive long-term international plan increases human and material losses and allows Daesh to strengthen its organization,” warns Syrian Democratic Forces
The American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an independent Kurdish militia in the Syrian Kurdistan region, voiced concern on Wednesday that lack of global support could potentially pave the way for a revival of the Jihadist group ISIS or Daesh.
The SDF, which played a crucial role in defeating the radical ISIS terrorist organization’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in 2019, warned Western nations against abandoning the Middle East region at a time of ascending radical Islamism.
“The absence of a clear, comprehensive long-term international plan increases human and material losses and allows Daesh to strengthen its organization,” stated the SDF Command.
Despite sustaining massive blows, ISIS is far from defeated and the Kurdish forces warn that ISIS is gradually seeking to rebuild its capabilities. In January, more than 330 people were killed in heavy battles when ISIS militants attacked a prison in the Kurdish-controlled city of Hasakeh in northeast Syria in order to free members of their extremist group. Most fatalities were ISIS militants, however, at least 79 Kurdish fighters were killed in the battle. By the end of January, Kurdish forces succeeded in regaining control of the embattled prison. This large-scale ISIS attack, nevertheless, showed that the Jihadist group still possessed significant assault capabilities not to be underestimated by Western governments.
Earlier in March, ISIS confirmed the death of its former leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, who was killed during a U.S.-led military special operation in Syria in February. At the same time, ISIS announced the name of its new leader, Abu Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the “caliph of Muslims.”
At its height, the Islamic State controlled more than 40,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq, a territory roughly the size of England. However, by the end of 2017, it had lost some 95% of the region. Despite massive territorial losses, ISIS is far from defeated and in recent years has used the Internet as a tool for establishing a virtual “caliphate” for its followers around the world. ISIS has also been strengthened by the gradual departure of the U.S. from the Middle East.
The ISIS organization is reportedly in the process of rebuilding its Jihadist capabilities in Syria and recruiting new fighters, according to a recent U.S. Pentagon report.
The report also stresses that ISIS is strengthening its armed capabilities in neighboring Iraq, financed by a residual wealth of some $300 million. While this is a fraction of what ISIS used to possess, it is nevertheless sufficient to keep its Jihadist network alive.
Radical ideologies like ISIS tend to grow in environments of anarchy and lawlessness. While this phenomenon is largely associated with failed states such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen, it also exists in certain socio-economically depressed and crime-ridden immigrant neighborhoods in Western democracies.
This phenomenon is also prevalent in certain parts of the Jewish state, especially in Israel’s increasingly lawless southern Negev desert, which is home to a large and growing Bedouin population. Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, an Israeli Bedouin citizen who murdered four Israeli civilians last week in the southern city of Beersheva, was a radical Muslim who identified himself with the ISIS Jihadist ideology.
With continued anarchy in much of Syria and Iraq, and the world currently focusing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, radical Islamist groups such as ISIS could view this as a golden opportunity for regrouping and rebuilding their terrorism capabilities in the Middle East and beyond.