The Baghouz fall to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday marked the end of the Islamic State (IS) ‘caliphate’ that was set up four years ago and spanned a third of Iraq and Syria at its height.
The Kurdish-led SDF declared its victory – that came after weeks of heavy fighting in the last IS stronghold of Baghouz – via Twitter. “Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for the SDF, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.
While the IS has been stripped of the vast territory under its control, its ideology remains a threat – given the eight million-strong following that it once boasted.
Some of its fighters still hold out in desert areas in Syria and have slipped into the shadows in Iraqi cities, and will seek to rise again. Whether the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is still alive or in hiding is not yet confirmed – something that will remain a source of hope for the diehard fighters willing to die for a ‘cause’.
With the IS declared dead, more pertinent point to ponder is whether the world powers have learnt the vital lesson from the rise and fall of the militant group that was dreaded for its savagery. In fact, it is their historic love for string-pulled puppets in powers that brought chaos to parts of the Arab world. Their disastrous policies vis-à-vis Middle East and North Africa paved the way for IS to rise and grow.
The US and other major powers supported shadowy opposition figures in these parts of the world as against powerful national leaders like Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad and Muammar al-Gaddafi to further their diplomatic interests in bid to fortify their global hold. A similar interference of the US, UK and others in Venezuela’s internal affairs shows the IS nightmare has failed to teach them any lessons.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2019.
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