Foreign Affairs: How ISIS Is Transforming

The counterterror campaign against the Islamic State since the group’s violent emergence in 2014 has made progress. Yet, “predictions of the group’s ultimate demise are premature,” argues Colin P. Clarke for Foreign Affairs. Ultimately, Clarke argues, analysts witness a transformation “from an insurgent organization with a fixed headquarters to a clandestine terrorist network dispersed throughout the region and the globe.” Iraqi security forces have purged ISIS from Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar and Mosul, while the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have nearly regained control of Raqqa – the headquarters for what ISIS called its short-lived caliphate. The insurgent organization is setting the wheels in motion for the next phase of the conflict: external operations. The new strategy entails ISIS functioning as an underground cadre relying on guerrilla tactics out of eastern Syria and western Iraq for the foreseeable future, according to Clarke. The shift is supported by the fact that terrorist attacks by ISIS in Europe hit double digits in May and August, “even as the group lost more territory.” Clarke maintains that this transition requires Western governments to develop a sophisticated counterterror strategy as opposed to one rooted in the tactics of counter-insurgency. –YaleGlobal

Foreign Affairs: How ISIS Is Transforming

Western governments must prepare and adjust strategy for transformation of ISIS from insurgents who hold territory to a terror network that can emerge anywhere
Colin P. Clarke
Sunday, October 1, 2017
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Colin P. Clarke is a political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism in The Hague.
Copyright 2017 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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