Islamic State May Be Losing Territory, but It Won’t Give Up on Winning It Back

Since Islamic State (IS) has lost nearly all of its territory in Iraq and been driven from its major urban redoubts in eastern Syria, many observers have predicted it will reinvent itself as a global terrorist organization. As such, it is said, the group will focus its energy on staging attacks on civilians rather than taking and holding territory. Robin Simcox is not so sure:

So long as IS wants to keep on fighting—and clearly, it does—it has little choice but to revert to guerrilla tactics. However, it would be a mistake to think of this as anything other than a temporary tactical pivot. The terrorist group’s overall strategy will not change. IS still aspires to hold territory, govern, and ultimately restore a caliphate—with an appointed caliph—ruled by sharia law. This is integral to the raison d’être of not just IS but Islamist groups generally.

The creation of a caliphate is a key tenet of Islamism. In 1938, Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated that the Brotherhood believed “the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and an indication of the bonds between the nations of Islam.” For that reason, he said, its “re-establishment [is] a top priority.” . . .

Beyond the political and theological motivations, IS has a host of practical reasons for seizing and holding land. Controlling large amounts of territory allows it to create safe havens from which to plan terrorist attacks outside its immediate sphere of influence—such as the IS-directed Paris attacks that killed 130 innocents and wounded hundreds more in November 2015.

Moreover, territorial control allows control over people—and not just those already living in the occupied area. The 2014 announcement of a caliphate led tens of thousands of Muslims to move there. And controlling more territory and people also means a larger cash flow—provided in the 2014-17 caliphate via taxation, extortion, and selling oil, antiquities, and the like. Therefore, Islamic State cannot . . . restrict itself to hit-and-run raids, car bombings, and trucks mowing down pedestrians. The need to govern is real.

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More about: Iraq, ISIS, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics & Current Affairs, Syria, War on Terror

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict