Caliphs Don't Gotta Caliphate

There is some not-so-bad news out of the Middle East today, courtesy of StrategyPage:

American intelligence analysts, based on surveillance photos, electronic intercepts (of Internet, radio and cell phone discussions), captured documents and prisoner (and deserter) interrogations, believe that ISIL is now definitely on the defensive in Iraq, despite recent major attacks in Anbar. Although foreign volunteers continue to get to ISIL held areas in Syria and Iraq most of them have few useful skills (combat and otherwise). Meanwhile ISIL is suffering heavy losses (from combat and desertion) among its experienced fighters and specialists. There are growing discipline and morale problems that the senior leadership have few good solutions for. Executing commanders who do not win and lecturing the others is a short term solution that makes things worse in the long term.

ISIL also has financial problems. Iraqi offensives this year have cost ISIL over 90 percent of the oil production facilities it controlled. This oil was transported via truck to Turkey where criminal gangs bought it at a large discount and sold it on the black market. This provided most of the regular cash income ISIL could depend on. Now ISIL has to increase its extortion (of cash from populations it controls) and looting (of whatever they can get their hands on).

It’s good that ISIS is taking a beating. It’s bad that ISIS was ever allowed to fester so long. It may prove worse that Iran has been allowed to use the resulting chaos to make even bigger inroads into Iraq.