Mosul defeat leaves Isis ‘unlikely to survive’ three years after declaring caliphate in Iraq, analysts say
Iraqi forces claim the destruction of the caliphate after retaking Mosul’s wrecked al-Nuri mosque – but root problems driving violence in the country will be harder to address
On 29 June 2014, Isis’ leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared the creation of his caliphate from Mosul’s grand mosque after his forces swept across a third of Iraq from neighbouring Syria.
Exactly three years later, Iraqi troops have wrested the site of the 12th century building back from the terorrists
Even though its black flag was still flying from the minaret, Isis blew up the mosque last week in order to rob the security forces of the symbolic victory.
Drone footage shows the devastation in Mosul’s old city and the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque
Nonetheless, the authorities were keen to stress the importance of retaking the compound. “Their fictitious state has fallen,” military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told Iraq TV.
The footage of Iraqi soldiers clambering around the ruins are bittersweet for Mosul’s long suffering residents, and militants left in the city are intent on fighting to the death. But on the third anniversary since the city was conquered, Isis’ leaders can no longer hide the fact their caliphate is crumbling away.
“Islamic State’s project lies in ruins…. To see just how bad things are going, consider that they even destroyed the historic mosque where Baghdadi first emerged to declare his caliphate,” Dr Shiraz Maher, Deputy Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, said
New analysis from IHS Markit’s Conflict Monitor shows that while at the height of its powers Isis controlled 90,800 square kilometres (56,421 square miles) of territory, thanks to aggressive US-backed ground and air campaigns across both Syria and Iraq the organisation’s territory has shrunk by 60 per cent to an estimated 36,200 km² (23,000 m²).
Territorial losses have added to financial woes: while in the second quarter of 2015 Isis’ average monthly revenue was estimated to be $81 million (£63 million), by the same period in 2017 it had fallen to $16 million (£12 million) – a reduction of 80 per cent.
While Isis has always relied heavily on excessive taxation, fines and often outright stealing from populations under its control – never a reliable source of income – its oil revenue is also down 88 per cent, IHS Markit said.