ISIS is crumbling in both Iraq and Syria. But now, international unity between intervening powers is more vital than ever.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) grasp on the Middle East is faltering. Bursting onto the scene in 2014, and creating ripples of fear across the world, it seemed invincible. Its power finally peaked around a year ago. However it has suffered crippling losses since then, leading to pivotal transformations in the power balance of the region. Its ultimate defeat seems imminent. Such progress wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for both the US and Russia sharing the common goal of destroying ISIS. Even so, further unity is even more essential as ISIS’ collapse draws near.
It’s true that both Russia and the West initially had different agendas for the region — largely centered around the future of Syria. Yet with both their sights set on the annihilation of ISIS, these differences have been somewhat sidelined; resulting in the decline of the Islamist faction.
On the one side, Russia have helped the Assad regime escape turmoil, and climb from its cornered position in Syria. Being on the brink of isolation this time last year, the Syrian regime has enjoyed tremendous success since Russia’s intervention last September. ISIS have been put on the back foot in Syria — most notably with the liberation of Palmyra in March. Without Russia’s assistance from the air, ISIS would almost certainly have overtaken the Syrian government as the most dominant force in the country.
Iraq has slipped away from ISIS’ clutches too; and we can give credit to coalition efforts from the US, EU states, and Kurdish factions. Think Ramadi’s liberation last December was a success? A victory at the town of Fallujah, an ISIS foothold 30 miles away from the Baghdad, would be a final nail in the coffin for these militants. This certainly looks set to happen, thanks to the efforts from the US-backed Iraqi government. So far, the southern edge of the city has been seized; and with their resources under significant strain, and being isolated by multiple factions in the region, it seems that ISIS is sure to be pushed from Iraq.
It’s like a domino effect: city after city, town after town, ISIS’ reign of terror has been gradually dismantled. While the spotlight is on in Fallujah, ISIS’ stronghold in Raqqa in Syria is also now under threat. Clashes are erupting between Syrian troops and ISIS fighters outside of the city. Russian air forces have reportedly struck oil fields in the city itself too. And Western forces are now seemingly raring to get involved in the action.
Despite this unexpected victory, and fears that ISIS would be around for years (or even decades), a victory draws closer; thanks to joint international efforts. A peaceful solution is not settled yet however. In the final campaign against ISIS, it is essential that both the US and Russia keep together the same aim of defeating this sect, rather than considering their own ambitions.
As we’ve learnt, international cohesion is vital. Without the efforts from both Russia and US, ISIS wouldn’t have undergone such a decline. However, it’s of utmost importance that they unite further in the final campaign against ISIS, and upon its defeat. Both have been divided over the future of the Assad regime; and a pragmatic solution for the future of the region, upon ISIS’ downfall, needs to be agreed upon; and maintained by all parties. A solution that benefits all parties involved in the conflict; and most importantly, one that stops another conflict from blowing up.