The rise, fall and defeat of the Islamic State caliphate

It is claimed that the last bit of territory taken and held by Islamic State has now been recovered. Islamic State, often referred to as ISIS, has effectively been defeated. This doesn’t mean they have been completely wiped out, some of them will have survived and dispersed, but with no territory, no caliphate, they are nothing but a scattered bunch of terrorists.

Reuters has a timeline of their rise, fall and defeat. Timeline: The rise and fall of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Islamic State fighters have been defeated at the final shred of territory they held in eastern Syria, marking the end of jihadist rule that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday.

  • 2004-11 – In the chaos following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, an al Qaeda offshoot sets up there, changing its name in 2006 to Islamic State in Iraq.
  • 2011 – After Syria’s crisis begins, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sends operatives there to set up a Syrian subsidiary.
  • 2013 – Baghdadi follows in 2013, breaking with al Qaeda and renaming his group “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.
  • 2014 – Its sudden success starts with the seizure of Fallujah in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria at the turn of the year. The jihadists take Mosul and Tikrit in June and overrun the border with Syria. At Mosul’s great Mosque, Baghdadi renames the group Islamic State (IS) and declares a caliphate.

In Iraq, IS slaughters thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar and forces more than 7,000 women and girls into sexual slavery. In Syria, it massacres hundreds of members of the Sheitaat tribe. IS beheads Western hostages in grotesquely choreographed films.

In September, the United States builds a coalition against IS and starts air strikes to stop its momentum, helping the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia turn the militants back from Kobani on the border with Turkey.

  • 2015 – Militants in Paris attack a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket, the bloody start to a wave of attacks that IS claims around the world. Militants in Libya behead Christians and pledge allegiance to IS, followed by groups in other countries, but they stay operationally independent.
    In May, IS takes Ramadi in Iraq and the ancient desert town of Palmyra in Syria, but by the end of the year it is on the back foot in both countries.
  • 2016 – Iraq takes back Fallujah in June, the first town IS had captured during its initial blaze of success. In August, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, takes Manbij in Syria.
  • 2017 – Islamic State suffers a year of catastrophic defeats. In June it loses Mosul to Iraqi forces after months of fighting and Baghdad declares the end of the caliphate. In September the Syrian army races eastwards backed by Russia and Iran to relieve Deir al-Zor and re-extend state control at the Euphrates River. In October, the SDF drives IS from Raqqa.
  • 2018 – The Syrian government retakes IS enclaves in Yarmouk, south of Damascus, and on the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The SDF advances further down the Euphrates and Iraqi forces take the rest of the border region. The United States vows to withdraw troops.
  • 2019 – IS fighters are defeated at their last enclave on the Euphrates at the village of Baghouz, the SDF says.

In March 2019 the SDF declares the “caliphate” eliminated.


caliphate (Arabic: خِلافة‎ khilāfah) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph (/ˈkælɪfˈk-/Arabicخَليفة‎ khalīfah), a person considered a religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah (community).

That sounds like it would be like someone claiming to be a religious successor to Jesus.

Islamic state:

An Islamic state (Arabicدولة إسلامية‎, dawlah islāmiyyah) is a type of government primarily based on the application of shari’a (Islamic law), dispensation of justice, maintenance of law and order. From the early years of Islam, numerous governments have been founded as “Islamic”.

However, the term “Islamic state” has taken on a more specific connotation since the 20th century.

Like the earlier notion of the caliphate, the modern Islamic state is rooted in Islamic law. It is modeled after the rule of Muhammad. However, unlike caliph-led governments which were imperial despotisms or monarchies (Arabic: malik), a modern Islamic state can incorporate modern political institutions such as elections, parliamentary rule, judicial review,  and popular sovereignty.

Today, many Muslim countries have incorporated Islamic law, wholly or in part, into their legal systems. Certain Muslim states have declared Islam to be their state religion in their constitutions, but do not apply Islamic law in their courts. Islamic states which are not Islamic monarchies are usually referred to as Islamic republics.

So there are many variations.

So no territory, no caliphate, but there will be still some supporters scattered around the Middle East.

Vox: Trump just declared ISIS’s caliphate 100% defeated. But ISIS still remains.

That was last month. Trump was a bit premature.

President Donald Trump has just declared that ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq is “100 percent” defeated, touting it as one of his administration’s biggest foreign policy successes and one his predecessor wasn’t able to achieve.

The problem is that top US officials say there are still thousands of ISIS fighters active in those countries despite their loss of territory. In other words, the caliphate is defeated — but not the terrorists.

That ISIS has lost all of its territory is certainly a major accomplishment, since in 2014 it controlled an area of land the size of Britain. But “losing territory does not mean a group is defeated,” says Shanna Kirschner, an expert on Syria at Allegheny College who spoke to me in early February.

Earlier this month, Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads US troops in the Middle East, told CNN that ISIS will still have the ability to terrorize. The group “still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources,” he said. “So our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network.”

According to reports by both the Pentagon and the US intelligence community, ISIS still has thousands of fighters spread across Syria and Iraq. One estimate from last August found that ISIS had as many as 17,100 fighters in Syria, and about 30,000 total between the two countries.

So ISIS is still a threat, as are other groups like Al Qaeda, but they have suffered a major defeat as far as territory goes.






Leave a comment


  1. Finbaar Rustle

     /  24th March 2019

    Angry man syndrome leading to aggressive attack
    is impossible to predict or defend.
    Even as I write these comments some angry man/men
    are carrying out attacks based on some “justifiable cause”
    Angry men (not angry women) is a real problem.
    Defeating a philosophy, restricting gun laws or improving security checks
    might temporarily or slightly narrow the attack channels
    but ultimately will have little effect.
    Angry men will always find a way.
    While it is true anger had a strong influence in evolution
    technological advances are now way ahead so hard wired
    male aggression is likely to destroy the world much sooner than later.
    What can we do when some one like Tarrant or someone in ISIS
    hacks his way to the nuclear button?
    Political theories and crisp presentations will be of no use then.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th March 2019

    Who gave them guns?


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