July 29th 2017

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COVER STORY The rise and rise of Old King Coal

EDITORIAL Behind Donald Trump's endorsement of Poland

CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

HEALTH Gardasil(R) and the man upon the stair, Part II

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

MUSIC What's in a tune: minor change makes a major difference

CINEMA Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

BOOK REVIEW Moves that may push our constitution over

BOOK REVIEW Exposing the transgender agenda


GENDER POLITICS Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed

GENDER POLITICS Melbourne mum goes viral on 'Safe Schools'

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Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, July 29, 2017

The attempt by radical Sunnis to establish Islamic State (IS), a terrorist caliphate in Syria and Iraq claiming authority over Muslims worldwide, looks near to defeat, with the liquidation of its empire and the reported death of its leader.

It is expected that IS-inspired terrorism around the world will gradually diminish as a consequence.

Islamic State was formally established in 2014, following the declaration of a caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a former al Qaeda operative in Iraq, who had been involved in the military resistance to the American forces that overthrew Saddam Hussein and installed a Shia-majority government in Iraq.

The caliph claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims, so predictably, the establishment of Islamic State was formally rejected by all the other existing authorities in the Islamic world, both Sunni and Shia.

However, its successes in capturing control of large swathes of Sunni territory in northern Iraq, which had been persecuted by Shia militias since the overthrow of Saddam, and territory in Syria, following the uprising against the Assad regime, made it a formidable force in both countries.

At its height in 2014, it was estimated that Islamic State had 30,000 fighters, many of whom had been recruited from non-Muslim countries around the world, including Australia.

Billion-dollar empire

A 2014 study by the Rand Corporation, using captured IS documents, estimated that IS had assets of some $3 billion, most of it looted from banks in Mosul, and an annual income of over $1 billion, much of that coming from the sale of contraband oil, but also from extortion, kidnapping and taxes imposed on the people under its control. It was the wealthiest terrorist group in the world.

An international alliance including the United States, NATO, Australia, Russia and some nations of the Islamic world, particularly Saudi Arabia, was established to conduct an air war against Islamic State, while American-trained Iraqi forces battled IS in Iraq, and Kurdish forces, also backed by the U.S., fought against IS on the ground in Syria.

The culmination of these efforts occurred in the battles for Mosul, the second city of Iraq, captured by IS in 2015, and Raqqa, a large city in Syria.

Islamic State seized control of Sunni territory in northern Iraq and Syria, using the tactic of unlimited violence to instil a sense of fear into those it controlled. The tactic largely worked. IS has murdered tens of thousands of people in northern Iraq and Syria.

The tactic was then exported to the West; using the internet to export IS ideas, and jidadists from the West who had been radicalised by visiting IS-controlled territory, and who were instructed to carry out insurrections in the West.

Appalling, brutal and barbaric as such tactics are, they were insignificant compared with the murder and mayhem IS unleashed in northern Iraq and Syria, which led to international military operations to destroy it. The coordinated air and ground military operations against IS have led to the deaths of many of its leaders over the past three years.

The latest announcement by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of the death of the caliph himself is a body blow to the organisation.

The Observatory said it had “obtained reliable information from a first-line commander of the ‘Islamic State’ organisation and second-line commanders of the organisation, [who] confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ‘Islamic State’ organisation, is dead”.

The sources added that al-Baghdadi died in the last three months in a village in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on the Syria-Iraq border, but the sources did not specify how he died.

Added to this has been IS’s loss of Mosul, the second city of Iraq, which was regained by the central government after being under IS control for three years.

The battle to regain control of Mosul took eight months from the time the operation officially commenced, and was the scene of the most bitter house-to-house fighting seen anywhere in Iraq. Much of the old city was destroyed.

At the same time, the IS capital in Syria, Raqqa, has also been under attack from Kurdish-led U.S.-backed forces of the Syrian Democratic Front from the north and west, and Assad’s Syrian Army from the west.

The defeat of IS marks the end of its reign of terror in the Middle East. The snake is most dangerous when it’s cornered, but it can be expected that in the longer term attacks will decrease in Europe.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm