What Next for Islamic State?

(Jerusalem Report) Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror - The militant jihadist Islamic State now controls a huge expanse stretching in Iraq from Ramadi, a stone's throw from Baghdad, across the Syrian border to archeologically rich Tadmur (Palmyra). At the same time, it has been consolidating its hold on the entire northeastern region of the disintegrating Syrian state. It is now deeply ensconced as well in the Bedouin tribes in northern Sinai in Egypt. IS will need some time to "digest" all the territory it has taken in Syria and Iraq. But as soon as it does, what next? It has four broad options: a concerted push for Baghdad; a drive into Kurdistan; a move on Aleppo or Homs in northern Syria; penetration into Jordan. Resistance in northern Syria would likely be far weaker than in Shi'ite-controlled Baghdad or against resolute Kurdish fighters. Jordan will not be easy prey. The Jordanian army is very professional and the king enjoys both popular legitimacy and wide popularity. In Syria, Sunni fighters from the opposition rebel army might join up with IS, which could trigger a dramatic deterioration in the position of Assad's minority Alawite regime. The struggle for Syria has become fiercer. The IS Sunnis are conducting a global war of annihilation. Until the recent fighting in Sinai, IS had never encountered a real, well-organized and well-equipped army. As soon as the Egyptians recovered from their initial surprise, they destroyed or repulsed the terrorist forces. True, the Egyptian army suffered heavy losses, but the overriding perception is that at the end of the day IS failed in their ambitious operation. IS is the Sunni response to the radical Shi'ite dynamic that has been driving the Middle East ever since the Iranian revolution 36 years ago. The nuclear agreement with Iran may well reinforce the Sunni sense of persecution and, as an unintended consequence, actually increase IS' power. The writer served as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, head of the National Security Council, and head of the research division of IDF Intelligence.

2015-08-13 00:00:00

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