Final battle against IS in the Middle East?

The IS terror organisation is on the verge of defeat in its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. But what comes after this military victory against the Islamists? Is peace anywhere in sight?

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Asharq Al-Awsat (SA) /

Kurds must not take over in Raqqa

Fayez Sarah, political and media adviser to the president of the Syrian Coalition, sees the plans of the Syrian-Kurdish PYD to bring the city under its control as problematic. In Asharq Al-Awsat he writes:

“The PYD has discredited itself with is policies. It discriminates against Arabs in the Kurdish region and is said to have close contacts to the Syrian regime and Iran. ... A realistic alternative would be the formation of a council that embraces the various political movements active before the IS occupation - all the democratic and national forces which took part in the non-violent protests against the Assad regime. Whether this option has a chance will soon become clear. At this point it's unimaginable that normal life will ever return to the city.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The caliphate is on its last legs but not the IS

The IS will survive as a terrorist organisation, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

“It testifies to great ignorance when politicians and military officials are promising yet again to destroy the IS once and for all. Because of course it was possible right from the start to defeat the IS militarily, as with any locally-based organisation. And that's exactly the fate that most observers predicted for it. Its lifespan as a terrorist organisation, however, stands to be much longer. Neither the extremists' ideology nor their force of attraction have been banished from the world. We'll have to reckon with suicide attacks and other bloody deeds for a long time to come.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Terror must be defeated in Asia too

The Philippine military has been fighting IS terrorists who have entrenched themselves in the city of Maravi for weeks. Europe must not lose sight of this battlefield, Helsingin Sanomat warns:

“In and of itself the presence of the IS [in the Philippines] is not surprising. New threats are its centralised leadership and the danger of it spreading to neighbouring countries. … The most significant and probably the most attractive target for the terrorists is Indonesia, which has the largest and traditionally very moderate Muslim community. Southeast Asia is attractive for the IS simply because of its size. It's not enough to defeat the IS in the Middle East and Europe, it must also be defeated south of the Sahara and in large swaths of Asia. ”

Delo (SI) /

Enter the big players

This is the start of a new round in the proxy war in Syria, Delo writes:

“The battle against the caliphate, which in Syria and Iraq was fought under the guise of the 'joint fight against the atrocities of the jihadists', has come to an end with the fall of the cities Mosul and Raqqa. … Now, under the guise of the fight for 'Syria's future' a far more open war over zones of influence begins. … Already tomorrow, as a result of Donald Trump's rash criticism of Tehran and the armament of Riyadh, the two main rivals in the region Iran and Saudi Arabia, who each have one of the major powers as their ally, will take off the kid gloves. The performance of the local bands in the Syrian war is clearly over and now the big bands are taking the stage.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

After hatred comes humanism

For NRC Handelsblad the bombing of the mosque marks a turning point:

“The 9/11 attacks shattered the all too beautiful dream of global unity with a neoliberal heaven on earth. … Now, however, a turning point is drawing closer [for the jihadists]: the realisation that all the rhetoric about a unique destiny and the dream of a pure life in compliance with God's will won't bring humanity much further. ... The reality is too stubborn. For years the humanism of the 20th century with great men like Gandhi, King and Mandela lay on the rubbish heap of history. … But now that the 'realism' of the period after 2011 has led to so much hate-filled identity rhetoric and end-of-the-world fantasies, a renaissance of the humanist way of thinking is inevitable.”