The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are losing grounds forcing them to relocate to new vulnerable areas such as the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula close to the border of Israel. Such acts of desperation only show how weak and vulnerable this group has become. To understand this, let’s quickly refer to the history of this terrorist organization.
The story truly begins with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the Cold War era. The formation of a Communist government in Afghanistan triggered the onslaught of thousands of mujahideen fighters acting as rebels against the un-religious government. Under systematic training and indoctrination, they fought in the holy war to uphold Islam against the infidel outsiders. This is where the saga of Islamic fundamentalism and religious extremism started taking roots. Afghanistan had fallen under Taliban but soon routed by the NATO forces under the United States. Simultaneous events led to the formation of Al Qaeda under Osama-bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11 attacks. He had another confidante Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who later had split ranks and formed an Islamic outfit in distant Iraq.
In the year 2003, the flabbergasted world watched the downfall of dictator Saddam Hussein as Iraq was invaded by US and allies. His secular and Sunni dominated government along with the rest of the administrative as well as military machinery was shunted. The dismantling of Iraqi army and de-Baathification still haunts the country. All disgruntled soldiers, generals, and fighters, predominantly Sunni, joined the ranks of Al Qaeda in Iraq under Zarqawi who was killed in a US airstrike in 2006. The cavernous sectarian divide among the Sunnis and Shias had worsened which the coalition government of Iraq was unable to control or reconcile. Amidst such volatile security situation, the Obama administration started withdrawing troops from Iraq although no significant security arrangements were made strong enough to sustain the dilapidated nation.
Then something unprecedented happened that changed the course of Middle East history. Arab Spring in 2010 was the defiant march of citizens of various nations in the region against their dictators, demanding democracy, rule of law, and a dignified life. It began in Tunisia, spread across Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. It was Syria where the trouble began, making way for a civil war. President Bashar al-Assad, the scandalous dictator of Syria unleashed the jihadist forces in the country to fight against the rebels of his government. He also despicably encouraged and deliberately didn’t control the swelling of Islamic State, so the world concentrates more on their obliteration than his. ISIS is a terrorist organization that wished to create an Islamic caliphate like the medieval times to be ruled as per Shariat law. Under a self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi, ISIS recruited thousands of soldiers from across the world through their propaganda videos on social media and magazines. They captured one-third of Iraq and Syrian territories, committing some of the grossest and murderous acts of crime against humans.
After six years of a genocidal and atrocious Syrian Civil War, ISIS is losing to the rebel fighters and government forces. International intervention by countries such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, etc, have finally been almost successful in eroding the dominance of ISIS. Loss of territories and incessant air strikes have weakened their bases, killed thousands of their soldiers, and dispersed their presence.
One such region where ISIS has created a new nuisance is the Sinai border area of Egypt. One of the world’s most competent military force, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have been taking strong action against the skirmished at the border region, thus, thwarting major attacks. An official estimate suggests that approximately 1000-2000 ISIS fighters are actively operating in the region. Israel, a small Jewish state is extremely popular with its counterterrorism tactics as it is surrounded by enemy states from all over. Besides, Israel has experience of fighting against Hamas and Hezbollah, two similar terror outfits. They deploy tactics such as deep penetration to identify threats, Iron-Dome missile defense system, and decisive defeat. They have at their disposal some of the best military technology and defense system.
Israel faces two branches of ISIS at its immediate border- Wilayat Sinai and Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on the Syrian side of Golan Heights. The Jewish-Arab rivalry has already made this region a red corridor of extremist attacks. Encouraged by the Trump administration, Israel has been intrepidly carrying out counter-terrorism defense operations against ISIS. They also tackle the skirmish between ISIS and Bedouin smugglers at the Sinai border. Several political analysts and prominent journalists have admitted that the Israel is the only country in that region, dreaded by ISIS. They know that the Jewish country’s army is too strong for them and they stand to lose much more than any minuscule gain. ISIS has no match to Israel’s precision attacks, targeted assassinations, and exceptional covert intelligence. However, in the last fight for their survival, this messed up affair against Israel can prove to be ironically suicidal for them.
Article by mausam