I’m going to do something a little different today. That’s because if you watched any of the speakers at CPAC, you might be tempted to think that ISIS is marching across the Middle East and is about to reach our shores. Of course that’s not true. So I’m going to highlight some things that have been written recently and suggest that you read them to get a more accurate view of what’s going on.
Zack Beauchamp writes: ISIS is Losing.
If you want to understand what’s happening in the Middle East today, you need to appreciate one fundamental fact: ISIS is losing its war for the Middle East.
This may seem hard to believe: in Iraq and Syria, the group still holds a stretch of territory larger than the United Kingdom, manned by a steady stream of foreign fighters. Fighters pledging themselves to ISIS recently executed 21 Christians in Libya.
It’s certainly true that ISIS remains a terrible and urgent threat to the Middle East. The group is not on the verge of defeat, nor is its total destruction guaranteed. But, after months of ISIS expansion and victories, the group is now being beaten back. It is losing territory in the places that matter. Coalition airstrikes have hamstrung its ability to wage offensive war, and it has no friends to turn to for help. Its governance model is unsustainable and risks collapse in the long run.
Unless ISIS starts adapting, there’s a very good chance its so-called caliphate is going to fall apart.
From The Australian, we learn that the Islamic State is being hit by desertions and disgust at their brutality.
Islamic State is facing increasing public disobedience and a Ârising numbers of defections, Âaccording to sources in two cities in Iraq and Syria.
They offered similar claims of morale falling and of defections among Islamic State fighters in Mosul and Raqqa, and told of Âdisplays of disaffection and resistance, and of rising incidences of corruption among officials.
Miriam Karolyn writes: Islamic State Under Pressure as Kurds Seize Syrian Town.
Kurdish forces dealt a blow to Islamic State by capturing an important town on Friday in the latest stage of a powerful offensive in northeast Syria, a Kurdish militia spokesman said.
Islamic State has been forced into retreat across parts of the strategic region, a land bridge between territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, even as its fighters have mounted new raids this week on Assyrian Christian villages, abducting more than 200 people.
The capture of Tel Hamis was announced by the Kurdish YPG militia and confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country’s civil war.
John Simpson reports that – at least in Baghdad – ISIS is Losing.
After 12 years in which the worst of any range of possibilities usually came about, it does feel as though Iraq could at long last be starting to turn the corner. That is certainly what people here in Baghdad, probably the most pessimistic city on earth, are now allowing themselves to hope. If it turns out to be true, they will deserve it more than just about any other group of people on earth.
Both the Pentagon and the Iraqi government have been saying that the coalition will mount an assault to re-take the city of Mosul from ISIS this spring. But Nancy Youssef reports that those plans have changed.
The U.S. military’s goal to retake Iraq’s second largest city from the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been pushed back several months at least, defense officials told The Daily Beast. That’s a major shift for the Pentagon, which recently announced that the first major ground offensive in the war against ISIS could come in the next few weeks.
Defense officials once hoped that Iraqi troops could move into Mosul by the Spring and reclaim the city from ISIS. Now, those officials say, Fall is more realistic. And even that date was tenuous.
“It is an Iraqi decision but we don’t want to do anything until they are ready and can win decisively,” a military official explained to the Daily Beast. “They cannot now.”
And now, to end the day’s blogging, let’s switch gears. A week ago today the world of jazz lost one of it’s great performers – Clark Terry. In addition to being a jazz trumpet master, Terry devoted much of his life to mentoring other musicians. One of his earliest mentees, Quincy Jones, made a documentary film about Terry’s relationship with his last mentee, Justin Kauflin, titled Keep On Keepin’ On. As the extra-terrestrial mentor Yoda would say: Watch this film you should.