Huffington Post Greece – May 19, 2018
Following the new terrorist attack in Paris, questions have arisen again about the actual extermination of ISIS and the effectiveness of the means used. The Paris attack, which was carried out by a young French knight stabbing civilians and whose responsibility has been taken over by ISIS after the release of a video where the perpetrator declares allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took place shortly after Donald Trump’s announcement of capturing five leaders of the organization in a joint venture with the Iraqi government. Of course, individual attacks continue in Europe and Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa. It is here that one wonders about the effectiveness of the means of combating the terrorist organization.
The last few months have been accompanied by statements by Russia, Iraq and the Assad regime for the divine and blessed victory against ISIS. The map circulating in the media confirms in gray that the organization has in fact disappeared from Iraq while controlling only 8% of the Syrian territory. The Western and Russian communications machine began to display ISIS on the deathbed. For me, the most important thing and the closest to reality in the last period is the statement made by US Defense Secretary Mattis, who confirmed that the organization was not over and that it needed more effort and time.
ISIS still controls an important area near the Iraqi-Syrian border east of the Euphrates river, two smaller to the west of the Euphrates and the Syrian desert, and two areas to the south of Damascus and the Israeli-Syrian border respectively, when western reports confirm that the communication and economic structure of the organization has been destroyed and that military strikes have broken up its leading structure. Over the last few weeks, however, they have proven that the organization has returned from death.
A local source informs me that the organization was able to exhaust the Kurdish forces backed by Washington to the east of the Euphrates through rapid and targeted hits, managing to win a secret cease-fire agreement between the two sides from 2 February to the end of April 2018. ISIS took advantage of this time and its geographical position near the Iraqi-Syrian border in order to be reorganized militarily and to attract its members who were in the Anbar desert and moved to the Syrian east. This became apparent last month, through the increased and more powerful attacks of ISIS on Assad and his Iranian militia allies in the cities of Mayadeen, Bukamal and Deir ez-Zor, which caused many dead and wounded. But the events did not stop at this point.
On the line between Deir ez-Zor and the Koniko natural gas field, a hot war is being carried out by proxies, and sometimes directly between Moscow and Washington. Russia, which wants a piece of the pie inside Syria, is trying to expand through Assad and Iran and its multinational militias, while Washington defends its influence through the Kurds and the Air Force of the International Coalition. As local sources confirm, the arrival of French troops in the controlled by the Kurdish forces areas east of the Euphrates aims to support Washington’s influence. In the midst of all this madness, which can lead at any time to a third world war, ISIS has reorganized also at the west of the Euphrates. On a daily basis, it runs organized attacks on the line between Sukhnah and Homs on the T-3 point, in an attempt to regain the lands it lost during the past year. That is why the US, in the fear of ISIS returning and expanding its power to the Syrian desert but also of possible complications with Moscow and Assad and its Iranian allies, increased their troops on the Al-Tanf base at the Syrian border Jordan, with over two thousand soldiers and hundreds of armored vehicles.
As part of this analysis of the conflict field in Syria, it must be made clear that the reality of the situation in Iraq is no less bad. ISIS, which has shifted from war of armies to guerrilla warfare, has succeeded in cutting off the roads in central and western Iraq. Reports from the region confirm that during the Iraqi parliamentary elections, the organization carried out eight attacks in polling stations and managed to kill an important leader of the Shiite militia Al-Hashd al-Sha’abi. This fact leaves no doubt that the announcements by the Iraqi Government and the International Coalition of the extermination of ISIS are only for media consumption.
The ISIS terrorist organization still has a hidden economic structure in Iraq and surrounding countries. Its influence on the minds of young people, albeit more limited than before, still exists. However, the Paris assault confirms that the war against the organization has failed and will not succeed if the reasons for turning the youth towards extremism are not eliminated. The solution is ideological rather than military. The Sunni persecution by the Shiite government of Iraq was the spark for the creation of ISIS. The war of Assad and its allies, Russia and Iran, against the Syrian people has created such a state of dispair that leads to the ideological expansion of the organization. The total absence of justice in the international community has prompted many young people in Europe to try to change reality with their hands through revenge with terrorist acts. Therefore, in order to end ISIS and prevent the formation of a new terrorist entity in the international system, the reality must be read again and the persecution of people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria stopped and justice enforced.