Is ISIS coming back?: a case for cooperation

8/3/2019 5:29:50 PM

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Karwan Ibrahim
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Even though officials announced that Islamic State (ISIS) was defeated in Iraq in December 2017 and in Syria in March 2019, ISIS sleeper cells remain active in both countries and still carry out deadly attacks on civilians and government forces.

Islamic State extremists killed four members of the Kurdish security forces and wounded eight others in an attack on a base near Kifiri on July 31, 2019. While the assault was not the first since the official declaration of victory, it shocked people in the Kurdistan Region because all of the victims were Kurds from poor families in the area. Moreover, the location where the attack took place has mostly been under the control of Kurdish forces since 2003.

What this attack, and others like it, suggest is that ISIS is by no means defeated.

One of the main reasons that ISIS is still active is the lack of cooperation between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government in the part of the country known as the disputed areas, which are claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. The area is not completely controlled either by Kurdish forces or by the Iraqi army, which has created a security vacuum in the region that ISIS is trying to exploit. In this environment, most of the time, it is civilians who become victims and lose their family members to ISIS attacks.

I believe that the best way for confronting ISIS members in the disputed areas and ending the group as a threat is agreement and coordination between Erbil and Baghdad. Both should put aside their differences and conflicts and work together to protect people and villages because the people in the area deserve to live peacefully, given the many tragedies and difficulties that they have suffered over the years.

The last attack showed us that ISIS is still a dangerous and brutal group that is not yet fully defeated. Using sleeper cells, they are getting stronger and feel emboldened to attack the security forces, as well as civilians. These attacks will make people flee their villages and farms again. It will be another disaster for innocent people living in the disputed areas.

The only way to end this catastrophe and suffering is coordination between the Kurdish security forces and Iraqi military. There must be a new deal between both governments because the current situation and conflict between them is serving ISIS. It lets ISIS become stronger, control a wider area, and carry out more attacks, which is unacceptable.


Karwan Ibrahim, is a senior news editor in Iraqi Kurdistan, and studied for his Master's in Communication and Journalism in India. He can be reached at karwantree@gmail.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NRT.