Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ISIS is spreading -- or is it collapsing from within?

The Libyan "expansion" of ISIS, along with the pledge of allegiance from Boko Haram, and non-stop stories of foreign fighters flocking to Syria, all paint a picture of the army thriving in spite of parallel Western and Iranian-backed efforts.

However, al-Baghdadi's own Syria/Iraq-spanning "caliphate" may be falling apart...due to the very same foreign fighters he and his supporters rely on.

According to the Washington Post, tensions between foreign and local fighters have spilled into gunfights, insurrection, and causalities.
New restrictions on travel in and out of areas controlled by the Islamic State have been imposed in recent weeks, including a prohibition on truck drivers transporting men without permission, the activist group says. Public executions, a core component of Islamic State discipline, have in recent weeks been extended to about 120 of the group’s own members, according to the ­Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Some were accused of spying and one of smoking, but suspicions are widespread that most were simply fighters caught trying to flee.

Meanwhile, territorial losses in northern Syria and elsewhere in Iraq are contributing to the sense that the group that stunned the world with its triumphant sweep through Iraq and Syria last summer is now not only on the defensive but also struggling to find a coherent strategy to confront the multiple forces ranged against it.
Not to mention the undeniable desperation in recruiting deaf and mute fighters.

However, it's not just a matter of when ISIS falls. The crucial question is how will it fall?

And when we say "it", what portion of the current "sworn" ISIS fighters and support personnel will attempt to blend in with the greater Syrian/Iraqi Sunni populations? How many will remain stranded? Who will flee back through the Turkish border to their own countries in hopes of re-integration, or flee to other "hot" jihadi conflict zones?

The formal Islamic State organization may (or may not) be near its structural fault line. But it may already too late to stop the ISIS-branded black flag from living on as rallying symbol for the future.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Goodbye, ancient Iraq. Hello, pre-Columbian Honduras.

By now, you have probably read about ISIS destroying rival mosques, ancient statues, and ruins of civilizations spanning thousands of years of human history, ranging from Assyria to Parthia. Sadly, it's another layer of tragedy atop of the (probably preventable) mass slaughter across the region.

Of course, their "pious" campaign has a size limit - they have no issue making money off idolatry if it's small and valuable enough to transport and sell on the black market.

The irony is that the Islamic State iconoclasm campaign comes the same week as the discovery of two lost ancient cities in Honduras.

One cradle of civilization gets bulldozed, another begins to awake from its jungle slumber.

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