Signs that ISIS may be in decline in Syria

Jalal Zein Eddine writes: For Syrians under Islamic State (ISIS) rule, the jihadist group is an incidental disease, not an authentic part of the society in which it has appeared, and the peak of its growth bears the seeds of its disintegration and demise. A number of factors are contributing to the group’s disintegration:

Firstly, the significant drop in the number of foreign fighters has been boosted by the pledges of allegiance Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi attained in the Sinai Peninsula, Libya and Nigeria. The damage these pledges have done to the group outweighs the publicity they have generated, as believers in ISIS’s extremist doctrine in the Arab Maghreb, Africa and perhaps even parts of Europe will join groups in their home countries. This will impact negatively on the group’s strength in Syria and Iraq.

“There are also signs of a big drop in the influx of people from the Arab Maghreb, mainly after the group’s battles against the rebels,” says Adnan, who is close to ISIS members in Aleppo Countryside. “It can even be said that emigration has stopped.” Perhaps this is what made Baghdadi accept pledges of allegiance from outside of the Levant; gaining such allegiances, even in faraway areas, was better than losing foreign fighters altogether.

The decrease in the number of foreign fighters, due to intensified international monitoring of their movement, has contributed to locals’ hesitation to join the group. “All the biggest assaults have been attributed to foreign fighters, who have a highly-effective combat doctrine,” says Mustafa, a lawyer from eastern Aleppo Countryside. “The drop in their numbers has not only reduced the Islamic State’s combat readiness, it has caused a recession in the number of local entrants in to the group.” Foreign fighters amazed young Syrians, their mad bravery attracting many local recruits. The drop in the number of foreign fighters has also weakened the identity ISIS is trying to force on the region. [Continue reading…]

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