PHOTO: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declares a caliphate in a sermon in Mosul, July 2014

As an Iraqi-Kurdish offensive closes on the Islamic State in Iraq’s second city Mosul, I spoke with Monocle 24’s The Briefing on Wednesday about ISIS’s political and military response.

Will the Islamic State try to hold the center of its “caliphate” or will its fighters withdraw to fight with an “asymmetric warfare” that includes suicide bombings and other attacks inside and beyond Iraq?

See Iraq Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide to the Battle for Mosul
EA’s Full Iraq Coverage

I explain why I believe, for political and religious reasons, that ISIS will have to make a stand in what could be a protracted battle for the city.

Listen from 9:03:

The Islamic State is different from Al Qa’eda because Al Qa’eda never had an area where it said, “We govern this territory.” IS does — it is a State, and Mosul is the center of that State. It is to be the symbol of how they can re-create, politically and socially, the proper way for people to be governed….

If IS goes back to being just another “terrorist” group, it loses its distinction.