Syria & Iraq Audio Analysis: How to Fight the Islamic State…and Why It Will Fail

PHOTO: An opposition march in Syria, April 2015


I spoke with Malaysia’s BFM Radio earlier this month about the fight against the Islamic State, following both the British Parliament’s authorization of airstrikes and the US statement that it is putting about 100 additional special forces into northern Iraq for operations in both Iraq and Syria.

The analysis parallels that in others which we have featured on EA, namely that airstrikes and special forces will only be effective in a campaign if they are coordinated with ground operations and effective political action. The discussion also considers the long-term weakness of the Islamic State.

See also Syria & Iraq Analysis: The Bombing of the Islamic State is a Political Sideshow
Syria & Iraq Audio Analysis: Bombing Won’t Defeat the Islamic State

It positions itself as against so many other movements, groups, and States. It’s very hard to see which groups the Islamic State will ally with….It’s a question of how longer you can govern when you’re opposed to so many others and when you’re suppressing those under your rule….

But until you recognize that, just shouting “radicalization” and saying somehow “we’re going to crush IS”, that defeat is not going to happen.

The problem with the bombing of IS in Syria is that, if people see it is not achieving anything in bringing out a stable Syria — if it merely causes civilian casualties, damage to infrastructure, and more people to flee their homes — that could feed more anger and frustration. People say, “I don’t like what the West is doing here”, so they give support to the Islamic State.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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