Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in The Atlantic: The Islamic State’s Stalled Momentum
There was a time when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria appeared unstoppable. In September and October, as the jihadist group captured territory through a major offensive in Iraq’s Anbar province, culminating in the fall of the town of Hit on October 13, observers feared that even Baghdad was in danger of being overrun. ISIS is now in the midst of another major military movement in Anbar, but the always-overblown fears about the organization’s advance are now receding—and the group’s decline has grown increasingly apparent.
ISIS’s signature attributes, ferocity and unpredictability, have raised the group’s profile and inspired a spate of lone-wolf attackers. But the organization has also made several strategic errors along the way. The Islamic State’s lifeblood is partially money and territory, but primarily momentum against weak and ill-prepared enemies. And that momentum, which peaked in early August, has stalled.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program.