Tag Archives: Raqqa

Raqqa’s Rapid Liberation Was Flawed from the Outset

The liberation of Raqqa by the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the military power of the Global Coalition confronting the Islamic State group (IS), was never going to be easy. Continue reading

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The Chlorine and the Bombs

Before the chlorine came the bombs. And before the bombs came the siege. Douma, the largest settlement in in eastern Ghouta, part of the surrounds of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had suffered greatly in the country’s civil war, which is in its eighth year.

Along with the rest of eastern Ghouta, Douma had been under siege for more than five years, its population cut off, unable to access medical supplies and food, unable to leave the area. For years, an outpost of opposition had remained a few miles from the seat of authority in Damascus, a reminder of the limits of the power of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the hereditary president. Continue reading

ISIS, Insurgent and Resurgent

The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.

After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading

Cutting Deals with the Islamic State

It is in retreat, defeated in its attempt to build a state. But the survival of the Islamic State group (IS) is assured. It’s assured because IS has effectively changed its strategy to one of insurgency, because it remains at home in the ungoverned spaces opened up by Syria’s civil war and present in Iraq’s less-populated provinces. Continue reading

The Inevitable Collapse of the Anti-ISIS Coalition

In some ways the Islamic State (ISIS) seemed to be a perfect enemy. Its initial success was so shocking, its modus operandi so brutal, that it focused minds across the world. The creation of a violent, theocratic statelet threatened not only the innocents within its areas of operation, but by implication every state. ISIS seemed a common enemy par excellence. Continue reading

Rhetorical Questions

Whatever else he is, Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, is at the very least appropriately named. The élan with which he recently wrote about the American campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) would be worthy of the protagonist of any Hollywood Western. Continue reading

Defeating Daesh?

Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.

This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading