The Inevitable Resurgence of ISIS?

With the final pockets of ISIS resistance in Mosul being cleared, and the YPG-led offensive in Raqqa coming into full-swing, the Islamic State will ultimately lose both its most important urban stronghold and its de-facto capital, respectively. In conjunction with a Russian-backed regime offensive in the Syrian desert, whose ultimate goal is to break the Deir-Ezzor siege, the caliphate’s territorial holdings are dwindling at an alarming rate. Yet, for some perplexing reason, while ISIS crumbles across a plethora of various fronts, several analysts are perpetually admonishing us about an inevitable resurgence of the militant group in the years to come.

Although several valid points are made in their arguments — pointing to the pervading sectarian strife within Iraq and increasingly in Syria, as well as the group’s past ability to reignite its insurgency amidst the power vacuum in the levant — there are many vital factors which these arguments do not weigh-in. Of these, and perhaps the most paramount, is the allure of an Islamic State.

The notion of an Islamic Caliphate, in years prior to the group’s emergence, had been romanticized as a utopian land of justice and prosperity within the minds of millions of muslims — an almost ethereal yet abstract view of a re-emergent, Islamic prowess acting at a global level. No matter the convictions of locals or those abroad that ended up joining the ranks of ISIS, this idealized perception of an Islamic State served as a major galvanizing component in driving the group’s recruitment. Yet this image of restored civilizational grandeur has now been replaced by the scenes of brutal beheadings and crucifixions. The ideals of Islamic jurisprudence providing a system of infallible justice has been substituted by adamantine oppression and despotism. The list continues.

The Islamic State has, in effect, become the most potent force in extirpating the appeal for the caliphate’s revival. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the plethora of other aforementioned factors will not act as fertile soil for the group’s resurgence. However, what this does mean is that if ISIS’s recrudescence ever materializes, it will need considerable time — most likely more than a couple of years, perhaps decades. Although they have deeply disparaged their image, the scars are not indelible. Scars heal with time, and with correct treatment and under the right conditions, they heal quicker.

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