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Monday, August 1, 2016

The Conundrum of the Coming Islamic State Collapse

The Conundrum of the Coming Islamic State Collapse

First, a bit of good news about the long-term prospects of the Islamic State: It has no allies and its vastly overmatched conventional military capabilities are coming under pressure from all sides. It has lost more than a quarter of its territory and five of the ten population centers it controlled after its high-water mark in the summer of 2014. But perhaps the Islamic State’s greatest weakness is the strategic incoherence of its attempting to simultaneously run a proto-state in Iraq and Syria while also exporting a global jihad.

In the chaotic aftermath of Russia’s 1917 October Revolution, Bolshevik leaders similarly attempted to re-establish control over their country while promoting communist revolution in Europe and beyond. But these copycat uprisings quickly failed, and “Socialism in One State” became official Soviet policy by 1924. From then on the Soviet Union operated more like a traditional state than a revolutionary one.
For its part, the Islamic State is moving in the opposite direction. Its governance model is failing and it lacks revenues to sustain even minimal service provision. As a result, it is slowly shedding its state, a trend which could well accelerate if the Iraqi campaign to retake Mosul is successful in the months ahead.

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