the eventual collapse of the caliphate it proclaimed with great fanfare two years ago.
Islamic State officials, in public statements and in interviews, insist
that the group’s “caliphate” project remains viable while also
acknowledging that military setbacks have forced a change in strategy.
A remarkable editorial last month in al-Naba, the Islamic State’s weekly
Arabic newsletter, offered a gloomy assessment of the caliphate’s
prospects, acknowledging the possibility that all its territorial
holdings could ultimately be lost. Just two years ago, jihadist leaders
heralded the start of a glorious new epoch in the world’s history with
the establishment of their Islamic “caliphate,” which at the time
encompassed most of eastern Syria and a vast swath of northern and
western Iraq, a combined territory roughly the size of Great Britain.
“The Crusaders’ Illusions in the Age of the Caliphate,” sought to rally
the group’s followers by insisting that the Islamic State would continue
to survive, even if all its cities fell to the advancing “crusaders” —
the separate Western- and Russian-backed forces arrayed against them.
“The crusaders and their apostate clients are under the illusion
that . . . they will be able to eliminate all of the Islamic State’s
provinces at once, such that it will be completely wiped out and no
trace of it will be left,” the article states. In reality, the group’s
foes “will not be able to eliminate it by destroying one of its cities
or besieging another of them, or by killing a soldier, an emir or an
imam,” it says.
The editorial asserts that the “whole
world . . . has changed” with the creation of a theocratic enclave that
has “shown all of mankind what the true Islamic state is like.”
they want to achieve true victory — they will not, God willing — they
will have to wait a long time: until an entire generation of Muslims
that was witness to the establishment of the Islamic State and the
return of the caliphate . . . is wiped out.”