(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)

The progress of ISIS in the last period seems to be unrestrainable and strengthening the project of the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The organization, that is nowadays not only present in the Arab Countries, aims to extend its control on Damascus and Baghdad, the capitals of Syria and Iraq.

During the last period, the ISIS militias conquered Palmyra, in Syria. The jihadist occupied the ancient museum enclosing themselves inside. Some days afterwards, a coalition of rebels, associated to al-Qaeda, took the province of Idlib subtracting to the Syrian government its last outpost. In particular, the rebels occupied the city of Ariha for two main reasons: Airha bounds with Turkey and it is geographically near to the province of Latika that is the power hub of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. In spite of this, the Syrian forces did not confirm the fall of Ariha city under the rebels, affirming that they are still fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights declared that 50% of Syria is under ISIS control.

The rapid progress of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is due to two main reasons: firstly, the weakness of the two countries’ armies and the minorities’ consensus. The ISIS guaranteed protection to the minorities after the end of the Assad regime. Another important strategic manoeuvre is represented by the threats of attack expressed by Wilayat Sinai (Ansar Beit al-Maqdis) to the Israeli city Eilat. The organization, associated to the terrorist branch of the Gaza strip, has already launched several attacks to Egypt during the last years. The threats came from the terrorist Abu Othman Al-Musuli, which stated that Israel is trying to negotiate with Hamas for the Palestine resolution. The menaces received did not surprise Israel that responded by increasing its defense border along the Sinai boundaries to avoid attacks against the Israel Defence Force patrols or against the State.

On June 2nd, the foreign ministers of the countries belonging to the anti-terrorism coalition met in Paris to discuss a hypothetical strategy to stop the rise of the State of al-Baghdadi. During this meeting, the Iraqi minister declared that ISIS diffusion continues to rise rapidly because of the ineffective measures implemented so far by the West. The U.S. President Barak Obama had previously objected to intervene with troops against ISIS. In fact, the United States is attacking through air raids, considered safer, by which it has already eliminated some jihadist exponents. This defensive strategy was confirmed by the anti-terrorism coalition meeting because it is considered more effective in the long struggle against ISIS. Before the threats against Eilat, Israel did not share the positions of the anti-ISIS coalition. In fact, the State of Netanyahu seemed to be just focused on Iran political maneuvers.

The threats that come to Israel could therefore represent a change of the ISIS plan for two reasons: the first represented by the strategic position of the Israeli city and the second because of the presence of ISIS followers in the area. The conquest of the port of Eilat at the time can be considered a strategy to consolidate the intervention of ISIS in Egypt.

Lucia Vasta

Master’s Degree in Languages and Economic and Legal Institutions of Asia and North Africa (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)