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Research Report

The ISIS Challenge in Syria: Implications for Israeli Security

Hillel Frisch
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2016
Pages: 53
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep04758

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
    Hillel Frisch
  4. (pp. 9-10)
    Hillel Frisch

    ISIS captured the world’s attention when it routed the Iraqi army in Mosul and took control over the city in early June 2014. It then proceeded over the next two months to capture most of the inhabited portions of northern Iraq and eastern Syria, thus wiping out the Syrian-Iraqi border. The movement’s gains in the summer of 2014 were indeed distinctive in several ways. For the first time, a jihadist organization in the Middle East succeeded in taking over a major metropolitan area, Mosul, in an important and relatively advanced state. Iraq was far more developed than Afghanistan and Somalia,...

  5. (pp. 10-25)

    ISIS in the public imagination evokes an image of an invincible military organization characterized by considerable strengths and minor weaknesses. A more comprehensive look at what transpired before ISIS captured the world’s attention, together with the benefit of evidence accumulated since then (a year and a half since those dramatic events), reveals the movement’s shortcomings as a military organization as well as its strengths.

    With an eye on both the map and the timeline of ISIS-related events, it is clear that ISIS, and indeed the other Sunni movements in Syria and Iraq, have primarily focused on military action aimed at...

  6. (pp. 26-29)

    In theory, ISIS’s basic thrust is to bring down the Syrian regime and then expand the Islamic State, and if not to rule over the entirety of Syria, then at least to achieve control over Syria’s spine and heart—the four major cities connected by Syria’s main M5 highway. A sequel second stage, however, would be well-nigh inevitable: a drive to take over the coastline and Syria’s two major ports, Tartus and Latakia, as well as the remaining airports under the regime’s control. This would almost inevitably involve a bloodbath against the Alawite community.

    How quickly this sequel might play...

  7. (pp. 29-34)

    By far the most immediate and pressing ramification of an Islamic State takeover in Syria for Israel is likely to be the impact of the Iranian presence in the area during and immediately after such a victory. Already, tensions exist over Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in the fighting in the northern Golan. In Teheran, this involvement is perceived as a preemptive move to protect the Shi’ites in southern Lebanon, while in Jerusalem it is seen as crossing a red line vital to its security. The situation has already given rise to considerable clashes, and there is potential for escalation. It...

  8. (pp. 34-40)

    However shocking the fall of major cities in Iraq in 2014 might have been, especially Mosul, it’s worth noting that after years of conflict in Iraq and Syria, the organization has yet to topple the regimes of either state. In both Syria and Iraq, the overwhelming sources of wealth and infrastructure remain in the hands of the government and its supporters. We have already noted two indications of this reality: in Syria, the government maintains control of 19 of 27 of the country’s air bases and both its deep seaports; in Iraq, oil production—most of which takes place in...

  9. (pp. 41-50)
  10. (pp. 51-52)