TLDRUpFront: In the last forty-eight hours three cities have officially changed hands in three different countries on opposite sides of the planet. The fall of Ar-Raqqah in Syria, liberation of Marawi in the Philippines and seizure of Kirkuk in Iraq are a Dickens menagerie representing the ghosts of ISIS past, ISIS present and post-ISIS future
TLDR Up Front: In two separate attacks, militants struck simultaneously at the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. Downplaying the attacks by focusing on casualties or containment is a serious mistake. Iranian politics exist in a precariously balanced ‘suspended equilibrium’ between formal Constitutional titular offices and informal factions of relationships
TLDR UpFront: A jailbreak in Marawi is jut one in a long history for ISIS. Salafi-takfiri groups have used jail breaks and prison attacks to bolster their numbers for well over a decade. Indeed ISIS owes its genesis to a 2012-2013 Al-Queda/ISIS operation named “Destroying the Walls” which freed an estimated 4500 skilled salafi-takfiri worldwide.
TLDR UpFront: Fighting continues in the city of Marawi on day six of the Philippines crisis. Even as a fog of war obscures the battle in the city which once held 200,000 residents the strains of the crisis across the rest of the province are becoming clearer. Declaring martial law across Mindando Province because of
TLDR UpFront: The violence which began as ISIS militants seized control of the mid-sized Philippines city of Marawi has spread to other provinces in the Philippines. President Duerte has declared martial law in Mindando for 60 days and may declare it over the entire country. Although not quite as dire as the Fall of Fallujah,
TLDR: Advocating ‘containment’ of ISIS in Syria and Iraq does not square with demonstrations of ISIS’s global reach: a terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester while halfway around the globe street battles break out as government loses control of a mid-sized city to ISIS in the Philippines. Contained? ISIS is just getting started.
TLDR Up Front: Pressed on two fronts in north central Syria there is evidence ISIS is relocating its capital from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor. Local Kurdish Syrian forces have been battling to encircle Raqqa for months; while a mix of Turkish, Syrian rebel, and Kurdish Syrian forces have battled ISIS – and sometimes each
TLDR Upfront: The battle against ISIS continues on two crucial fronts in Iraq & Syria as mirror images of one another. In Mosul, a coalition of forces have pushed ISIS back into only a half of the city but civilian casualties mount under an intensifying air campaign led by US warplanes. In Syria, ISIS
TLDR Upfront: Despite strategic realignment an escalating pattern of instability within Turkey puts it on a dangerous path with an uncertain immediate future.
TLDR Up Front: When ISIS first captured Palmyra it marked the high-water mark of its expansion in Syria. Now - significantly reduced in territory, ISIS has once again been able to gain ground in the south. Though it is nowhere near as powerful as it once was.