BAGHDADI’S DEATH – END OF ISIL?

Baghdadi's death
Photo by thierry ehrmann at Flickr.com

On Sunday morning, US President Donald Trump announced that US forces in northwestern Syria had killed ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. However, experts believe that despite Baghdadi’s death, ISIL is still a potential threat in Syria. Moreover, hundreds of ISIL fighters escaped the prison after Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurd militia. 

Experts opine that as Osama’s death did not kill Al-Qaeda, similarly Baghdadi’s death will also not completely neutralize ISIL. A senior Pentagon official told the RushHourDaily that US special forces and Kurdish forces jointly concluded the operation. 

In a statement issued by The White House, President Trump claimed that the world is now a much safer place to live. He further congratulated the US military for the successful operation. Experts believe that Baghdadi’s death is a massive victory for Trump administration, but it will not neutralize the damage caused by US withdrawal from northeast Syria. The US’ withdrawal allowed Turkey to strengthen its presence in Syria. Experts also believe that ISIL may resurrect after the Turkish offensive against Kurds. 

Experts believe that SDF and the US worked together to locate the whereabouts of ISIL leader. The operation was scheduled to be conducted in the first week of October; however, the Turkish offensive caused the delay. 

Defense analysts opine that despite the killing of ISIL leader is a great success for the USA, but ISIL is still a threat to the USA. There are possibilities that ISIL fighters may leave ISIL to join other proxies in the region. There is also a possibility that ISIL fighters can join Iranian proxy groups in Syria, which mainly include Hezbollah. Furthermore, ISIL still has its roots in Iraq. The complete ISIL neutralization will require effective cooperation between the USA, Iraq and Syrian Kurds. Peace in the region is not possible without this. 

Moreover, ISIL is strengthening in war-torn Afghanistan. US-trained Afghan forces are unable to counter the ISIL. ISIL fighters control many regions of Afghanistan-Pakistan. Neighboring Pakistan and Iran have also raised concerns about ISIL emergence in Afghanistan. Experts believe that ISIL will be able to find deep roots in Afghanistan if it remains unbridled. 

ISIL’s strong footprints in Afghanistan will create a new wave of terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. There is also a possibility that ISIL may shift its operating headquarters to Afghanistan. Furthermore, disgruntled Afghans can join ISIL. The inefficiency of Afghan security forces resulted in many false operations causing deaths of civilians in Afghanistan. The ISIL can harvest the anti-government public sentiments to achieve its goals in the region. 

Conclusively we can say that Baghdadi’s death is not sufficient to completely eradicate the menace of ISIL. USA should try to boost regional cooperation to counter ISIL. It is the right time to neutralize the ISIL camps in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Similarly, ISIL can also use Yemen’s plight in its favor. Expected Saudi-Iran cooperation can minimize the emergence of ISIL in Yemen. 

There must be an international narrative against ISIL. The absence of global unity is providing space for ISIL. Similarly, weak governments in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen are also unable to fight ISIL. It is very easy for ISIL to establish itself in the abovementioned countries. 

Similarly, rising waves of protests in Lebanon and Iraq can provide the opportunity for ISIL to gain public support. Particularly the situation in Lebanon is dangerous. ISIL can harvest anti-Hezbollah sentiments across the country. Lebanon’s government will have to look into the matter to avoid any future confrontation carefully. The Lebanese government should address the legitimate concerns of protesters or else the situation will be deteriorated.  

Related: OPERATION PEACE SPRING AND NEW MIDDLE EAST ALLIGNMENTS

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