Why ISIS is set to grow – not shrink – in the Middle-East

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People who believe ISIS will be destroyed after the liberation of Syria and Iraq are not seeing the whole picture.

Many strategists of counter terrorism believe that, should ISIS be destroyed from Syria and Iraq, they won’t be able to come back, and that Al-Qaeda is making more inroads by playing the “long game”.

This ignores how much weaker Al-Qaeda has become since the death of Osama Bin Laden and the rise of ISIS. The only reasons why we’re still talking about Al-Qaeda is because they represent a serious threat to Yemen and Afghanistan. In Syria, Al-Qaeda would join ISIS if the Assad Government were removed. They are only separate today because it is more acceptable for countries to fund Al-Qaeda than ISIS.

As it is, should the Assad Government stay in Syria, it is near impossible for Al-Qaeda to remain in Syria at the conclusion of the civil war. They will be completely obliterated – Jabhat Feteh Ash-Sham will be but a memory of the Syrian Civil War.

But ISIS… ISIS’ origins are in Iraq, and as long as Iraq is as unstable as it has been since 2003, ISIS will also remain in Iraq. While Iraqi military gains have been impressive, ISIS has been gaining ground in suicide bombs and insurgent attacks, especially in Baghdad. While crushing terrorism in Syria is much easier – letting the dictator stay in power – this is unlikely to work as well in Iraq.

With Russia set to stabilize Syria and Libya, ISIS will be forced to dig deeper into the fabric of Iraq in order to survive. This represents one of the most serious challenges to the Trump Administration: how to stabilize Iraq and deprive ISIS of an underground safe haven.

Worryingly, while ISIS will be continuing to destabilize Iraq, their efforts will be turned towards Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. For further information on how ISIS threatens Saudi Arabia, read the following article by Alistair Crooke.

In fact, it is easy to see how this has been the aim of ISIS all along: declare a Caliphate across Syria and Iraq, force all enemies to utterly destroy the Caliphate, then to “rebirth” the Caliphate in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

So far, no one in counter terrorism is addressing this. They are looking at the paper tiger of Al-Qaeda in Syria, when they should be looking at the threat ISIS is to the Arabian Gulf!

Not only is war and instability coming to Saudi Arabia, but also to most of the other Gulf states: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and U.A.E (Dubai), which may lead to the fall of these smaller kingdoms to ISIS. Such instability will cause an oil shortage – greatly increasing oil prices and forcing the whole world to gaze in horror at Saudi Arabia as they have been in Syria.

Destroying ISIS from the Arabian Gulf will be a near impossible task. Once ISIS detonates there, it will be easier for America to stabilize Iraq than drive ISIS out of Saudi Arabia.

First published on 7 July at http://jwaverterror.blogspot.com.au/

John Waver is a political commentator on the Middle-East. In his writings, his particular focus has been on the effect ISIS has had on the region, the success of Russian foreign policy in Syria and examining how each President of the United States has handled the war on terror. He is critical of much US foreign policy and an advocate for minority rights in the Middle-East.

Photo by Abode of Chaos