Saturday, 31 October 2015
Never mind the Russians, IS is destroying itself
'This week it was revealed that another mass slaughter by the extremist group had taken place, involving the summary execution of 224 of the group's fighters. They were suspected of attempting to defect to al-Nusra Front, and follows rumours that al-Qaeda's franchise in Syria is growing in popularity due to Russian air raids being aimed at them and other rebel groups - but not IS.
A month of heavy Russian bombing in Syria, falling almost exclusively on rebel-held towns and cities, has left IS militants in the north and east largely unscathed. It has allowed the extremists to direct their forces to defeating their rebel adversaries in Aleppo province, and cutting off the regime's lifeline to the southern Aleppo city. But the focus on fighting rebels rather than the regime has led many fighters to question the reasons for fighting "other Muslims". The IS leadership still refers to opposition groups - including al-Nusra Front - as "apostates", while most of its fighters are well aware that it is Bashar al-Assad's forces who are doing most of the killing in Syria. "There's senseless violence which a lot of fighters consider un-Islamic… people didn't join to spend half of their time fighting other opposition groups, they went to Syria to fight Assad and Shia domination of the region," the defence analyst said.
The economy is in tatters, and recent efforts to introduce a gold currency suggest amateur and impulsive responses to their economic woes. Meanwhile, the health system - which was once referred to by IS idealists as being a mirror of the UK's National Health Service - has collapsed. Ironically, Russia and the regime are also appear to be targeting hospitals in rebel-held territories - making the overall situation for Syrians grim. But the fact that in IS territories public hospitals lie in waste while the group's leadership is treated with relatively high-standards highlights a discrepancy in its claims of moral leadership. It also underlines a very apparent gulf in wealth between the leadership and subjects in their territory, and most Syrians understand clearly that the projection of IS' utopia to the outside world is shrouded with lies. If we imagine the near future, IS will no longer be able to rely on popular support - and without an inexhaustible supply of manpower and money, its project is doomed.
Even its capable and die-hard supporters have proven unable to defeat experienced opposition groups such as the Kurds and Free Syrian Army that offer more representative leadership and goals. In the end, the fate of IS might be decided by the fact that its population and ranks are voting with their feet and fleeing the territory.'