Friday, December 09, 2016

ISIL Will Need a New Plan B

ISIL had seemingly prepared their Libya province of the caliphate as their fall-back position in case they had to flee Iraq and Syria. ISIL will need a new Plan B.

It took a while, but with the final defeat of the last hold-outs in Sirte, ISIL's hold on Libya's coastal region has been ended. There is still enough room for ISIL to operate, mind you:

With the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) threat largely eliminated the major problem remains a lack of national unity. Since 2011 and the demise of dictator Moamar Kaddafi Libya has created three governments and two of them are now competing for power. First came the General National Congress (or GNC), a temporary group whose main job was to create a new constitution for the voters to decide on. The GNC was to rule until the constitution was approved and elections held. GNC failed to attract the support of all factions or agree on a new constitution. In late 2013 the GNC illegally extended its power for another year. Despite that scheduled national elections were held in 2014. GNC did not like the composition of the new House of Representatives (HoR) government and refused to step down. The UN recognized the HoR but most of the GNC members (who tended to be more tribal and religiously conservative) refused to give up power, seized control of Tripoli and became known as “the Tripoli government”. The HoR and the government it had formed fled east to Tobruk and became known as “the Tobruk government”. The HoR rallied most of eastern Libya behind them. The UN recognized the H0R and condemned the GNC.

Scroll down for a discussion of ISIL's defeat in Libya.

With that amount of chaos, ISIL will survive on Libyan territory, especially away from the coast (so American air power won't easily reach them) in the far south where ISIL can draw support from across the borders.

But it won't be the same as controlling people, territory, and their resources like a proto-state.

In Iraq, progress continues to be made to liberate Mosul from ISIL control. That won't end ISIL in Iraq, but that major source of money and people will be gone.

My major complaint about Iraq has been the time it has taken to mount this offensive. I will grant that an offensive has been ongoing for the last year in Anbar--which was good--but ISIL isn't so powerful that we had to wait for nearly the same amount of time it took us from Pearl Harbor to landing in France on D-Day to recover from the initial loss of Mosul to the beginning of the Mosul offensive.

But hey, I'm still grateful that President Obama essentially validated the Iraq War after his order to withdraw led to disaster, by initiating Iraq War 2.0 to salvage what America and our allies achieved in Iraq by 2011.

ISIL will have to fall back to Syria where they are under pressure by the American-led coalition supporting local Arabs and Kurds, plus some help from Assad and the Russians when it is convenient as they focus on killing non-ISIL rebels.

And of course, depriving this brand of jihadi Islam of a sanctuary in a proto-state is only the most necessary job we need to achieve. Then we have to use intelligence and police to defeat the group as a terror group. And other groups, too.

Of course, by having a proto-state for years, we gave ISIL the chance to spread their tentacles to make that fight harder than it could have been:

Islamic State militants are using turmoil sown by Russian President Vladimir Putin's bombing in Syria to plot attacks against the United Kingdom and her allies, Britain's foreign intelligence chief said on Thursday.

So before we put too much hope in a blistering Twitter campaign against jihadis, let's grind their faces into the dirt in defeat:

Counter-messaging works best when terrorists are deprived of their power, which means they are deprived of their sanctuary and safe haven, their efforts to recruit are thereby diminished: that’s when counter-messaging is enormously useful in preventing the recrudescence or the reemergence of these movements. But in-and-of-itself, without weakening the terrorist groups’ power, the messaging is going to be ineffective, as we’ve seen today, as demonstrated by the current worldwide proliferation of foreign fighters.

And then we have to help Moslems reform Islam to end the enduring appeal of jihad to young men who feel killing those who are different is acceptable to society and God.

And do that before weapons of mass destruction become easy enough to build that you don't need the resources of a state to make them.