Islamic State’s Defeat Doesn’t Mean Victory for the U.S.

July 12 2017

Earlier this week, Mosul—the largest city under Islamic State’s control—fell to Iraqi forces, while Islamic State has been driven almost entirely from its capital of Raqqa in Syria. Reports even circulated yesterday that the caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed. With Islamic State (IS) poised to fall, Elliott Abrams explains what’s next for the U.S.

The defeat of Islamic State as a “state” will leave two serious questions facing the United States. The first is: who will fill the spaces from which the jihadist group is driven? There is a clear effort by the new Iran-Hizballah-Shiite militia-Russia coalition to reply: “We will.”

That is an answer the United States should reject. Such a development would cement an anti-American coalition in place, threaten Jordan and Israel, and leave Iran the dominant power in much of the region. To reject this challenge verbally would be a joke, however; it must be resisted on the ground, through the use of force by a coalition that must be built and led by the United States. . . .

[O]ne can envision a discussion with Russia of how our interests and theirs can be accommodated while bringing the violence down to a level that allows many refugees to return home. But that discussion will achieve nothing unless American power first gains Russian respect and the Russians come to realize that compromise is necessary.

Even in the best-case scenario, with IS defeated and losing its control over a “state,” it may continue to exist as a terrorist group—and in any event al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups will not disappear. . . . So long as Iran tries to dominate the entire region and Sunni jihadist groups target the United States, the defeat of the Islamic State changes—but does not diminish—America’s stake in Middle East power politics.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

 

Don’t Expect the Jerusalem Summit to Drive a Wedge between Russia and Iran

June 14 2019

Later this month, an unprecedented meeting will take place in Jerusalem among the top national-security officials of the U.S., Israel, and Russia to discuss the situation in Syria. Moscow is likely to seek financial aid for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, or at the very least an easing of sanctions on Bashar al-Assad. Washington and Jerusalem are likely to pressure the Russian government to reduce the presence of Iranian forces and Iran-backed militias in Syria, or at the very least to keep them away from the Israeli border. But to Anna Borshchevskaya, any promises made by Vladimir Putin’s representatives are not to be trusted:

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war