What’s Next for Islamic State?

Although Islamic State (IS) is rapidly losing territory in both Syria and Iraq, Michael Rubin warns that victory is not necessarily at hand:

There will be no formal surrender. Nor will the eventual defeat of IS necessarily delegitimize its apocalyptic theology.

The theological problem is this: the late Turki al-Bin’ali, the grand mufti of Islamic State, cited a hadith [extra-Quranic teaching], attributed to Muhammad, declaring that there would be twelve true and legitimate caliphs before the end of the world. He counted [the current IS caliph Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi as the eighth, giving ambitious or megalomaniacal upstarts theological cover to be number nine, ten, or eleven. This creates a win-win situation for those who wish to emulate IS. Success proves theological legitimacy but failure doesn’t count because its authors can be dismissed, in hindsight, as imposters.

Beyond the very real possibility of a long-term insurgency in territory formerly held by the caliphate, Rubin predicts IS will continue to pose a threat as an international, underground terror network, and stresses the “the dual necessity of shutting down Islamic State activists’ cyber access and blocking the return of IS veterans to Europe, North Africa, and elsewhere.”

Read more at Commentary

More about: ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy


Getting It Right in Afghanistan

Aug. 23 2017

While praising the president’s announcement Monday night that the U.S. will be sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio express their “doubt [that] this will be enough to win the war.” They also warn against the dangers of a complete or partial American withdrawal and offer some strategic recommendations:

Al-Qaeda is still a significant problem in South Asia—a potentially big one. President Obama frequently claimed that al-Qaeda was “decimated” and a “shadow of its former self” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That wasn’t true. The Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign dealt significant blows to al-Qaeda’s leadership, disrupting the organization’s chain of command and interrupting its communications. But al-Qaeda took measures to outlast America’s drones and other tactics. The group survived the death of Osama bin Laden and, in many ways, grew. . . .

Al-Qaeda continues to fight under the Taliban’s banner as well. Its newest branch, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, is deeply embedded in the Taliban-led insurgency. . . . There’s no question that Islamic State remains a serious problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it still doesn’t threaten the Afghan government to the same degree that the Taliban/al-Qaeda axis does. . . .

Iran remains a problem, too. The Iranian government has supported the Taliban’s insurgency since 2001. Although this assistance is not as pronounced as Pakistan’s, it is meaningful. The U.S. government has also repeatedly noted that Iran hosts al-Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which moves fighters, funds, and communications to and from South Asia. Any successful strategy for turning the Afghan war around will have to deal with the Iranian government’s nefarious role. The Russians are [also] on the opposite side of the Afghan war.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Iran, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy