Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Al Qaeda Is Beating the Islamic State

Get ready for the clash of caliphates

April 14, 2015

The Islamic State’s lightning offensive through Iraq and Syria last year has dominated the headlines, but the jihadist group that has won the most territory in the Arab world over the past six months is Al Qaeda. On balance, the Islamic State has lost territory during this period—though it still controls more overall than Al Qaeda—most prominently, Tikrit and the southern half of the Salah al-Din province.

What we are likely to see now is a titanic war of ideology and tactics between two vicious, radical groups that together probably command more prestige among Arab peoples than the weak, often delegitimized governments they have outsmarted and outfought. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that, in an era when the threat of terrorist violence is arguably worse than it was on the eve of 9/11, it is Al Qaeda—a decade ago, the scourge of Sunni governments—that may come to be seen as the more acceptable of the two by these same governments.

Here is a snapshot of the two groups’ current territorial holdings, though these are changing all the time. In the past year, all of the Islamic State’s geographic gains have been minor, such as the town of Baghdadi in Iraq’s Anbar province and the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, and they have also been contested, with control of these areas fluctuating between the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL) and its enemies. In contrast, Al Qaeda’s affiliated organizations have made striking gains, in particular in Syria and Yemen.

(More here.)


Blogger Tom Koch said...

How can this be? I thought Al Qaeda was on the run and ISIS is just a jayvbee team?

11:39 AM  

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