What Happens After ISIS Falls?
Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is shrinking, but its demise is likely to bring new problems: fresh regional clashes, a revived al Qaeda and more terrorism in the WestBy Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ
Sept. 9, 2016 11:30 a.m. ET
On July 4, 2014, a black-turbaned cleric named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took to the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul and proclaimed the founding of a new caliphate. Already in control of eastern Syria and western Iraq, this so-called Islamic State had global ambitions, Mr. Baghdadi declared. The self-appointed caliph vowed to restore “dignity, might, rights and leadership” to his fellow Sunni Muslims everywhere.
That audacious sermon from the heart of Iraq’s second-largest city was the culmination of a jihadist blitzkrieg that had seized most of the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq in previous weeks. It was also, it turned out, the high point of Islamic State’s bid to conquer the world.
Islamic State now seems likely to fall as swiftly as it rose. In the past two years, the group has gone to war with everyone from al Qaeda to Iran’s Shiite theocracy to the U.S. and Russia. It has launched attacks in the West and elsewhere—or, at any rate, claimed credit for them—with rising frequency, even as it has suffered a series of battlefield defeats and surrendered one city after another.