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Saturday, July 8, 2017

ISIS is close to defeat — but what comes next is a mess

The good news is that, although hard fighting remains, the Islamic State’s caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been devastated. Soon, it will be entirely destroyed. Islamist terror will continue to gnaw societies around the world, but the vision of a totalitarian blood-cult ruling in the name of a gory god has been discredited among the Middle East’s Muslims and beyond.
The bad news is that, with ISIS crushed as a quasi-state and conventional fighting force, we’ll face a new Persian Empire stretching to the Mediterranean — and bordering Israel. The trans-national Shia-Sunni religious war will return to prominence. Dysfunctional borders still will plague the region. Traditional US allies will find themselves newly vulnerable. And Americans will no longer be welcome in Syria or Iraq.
When it comes to the greater Middle East, we did not have a strategy; we do not have a strategy; and it’s unlikely that we’ll have an effective strategy in the future. Washington does emergency surgery, not preventive medicine.
So . . . as ISIS fanatics die hard deaths in the broken cities of Mesopotamia, what will emerge from the ruins?
Not much that’s good.

Winners

Iran, Iran and Iran
Can’t help repeating the cliché: The Persians invented chess, and we play jailbird checkers. Tehran is creating a new empire that bears an uncanny resemblance to the empires of Darius and Xerxes 2,500 years ago, stretching from what’s now western Afghanistan, through Iran (Persia) and on through Iraq, to Syria, Lebanon and to the Mediterranean.
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