, 27 tweets, 39 min read Read on Twitter
The #SDF's proclamation of victory today against #ISIS's territorial Caliphate is a momentous occasion worthy of genuine celebration.

What was once a territory the size of the UK is now zero. That's no small accomplishment.

The #SDF lost 11,000 killed & 21,000 wounded.
#pt: After #ISIS's capture of #Mosul, its march south in #Iraq, expansion in #Syria & genocidal threats against #Yazidis in #Sinjar & #Kurds in #Kobani, the US mobilized the largest military coalition in modern history; 79 members.

Due in large part of @brett_mcgurk's hard work.
@brett_mcgurk #pt: As the #SDF has made clear, however, the counter-#ISIS mission must now shift to a new mission - the struggle is far from over.

The now-completed "clear" phase was the easy bit; the "hold" & "build" represents the huge challenge ahead, but our commitment is now in question.
@brett_mcgurk Today, #Iraq - with a legitimate, elected government - proclaimed victory against #ISIS in July 2017.

18 months later, #ISIS poses a steadily increasing terror threat in multiple provinces - it has reverted to covert, guerrilla operations & conducted 100s of attacks in 2018.
@brett_mcgurk In #Syria, where the #SDF is now celebrating the "destruction" of #ISIS's "#Caliphate," the prevailing dynamics are far more favorable to an #ISIS recovery.

- Destruction; social-religious-political-ethnic divisions; corruption; poverty; instability & violence are all immense.
@brett_mcgurk #pt: Now more than ever, the international community needs to united behind & support a long-term mission to (a) counter-#ISIS's guerrilla threat; (b) stabilize terrorized communities & (c) rebuild representative & reconciled governance.

It's not clear we prioritize any of this.
@brett_mcgurk Our primary partner in #Syria, the #SDF, says there are 100s, maybe even 1,000s of #ISIS sleeper cells spread throughout liberated territories.

We should know from past experience, and #ISIS's very own public materials, that this has long been the plan -- to play the long game.
@brett_mcgurk Countering #terrorism & sustainably removing its threat means pursuing a strategy that is, on the whole, dominated by non-military means.

Yet we've been measuring "success" using metrics like kilometers gained; militants killed etc.

Nothing could mislead policymakers more.
@brett_mcgurk Experts & govt analysts all seem to acknowledge that countering #terrorism/#extremism is going to be a multi-generational challenge.

And yet despite that, our leaders continue to pursue that goal using intrinsically short-term-limited means.

At the sight of victory: "job done!"
@brett_mcgurk The underlying & root causes that allowed #ISIS to thrive between 2012-15 are all still in place. Some are even worse today.

We're kidding ourselves if we think we've achieved victory.

Plus, those we're handing the "victory" to are precisely who #ISIS wants us to leave behind.
@brett_mcgurk #ISIS - and others like it - believe their struggle will be a long one. They acknowledge that defeats are inevitable tests from God, who ultimately will still grant them an eventual victory.

The situation we're leaving today could only look God-given to those #ISIS still alive.
@brett_mcgurk Today, we're presented with a #Trump-backed "residual force" #Syria plan. Some have celebrated this as an escape from "withdrawal."

In reality, it's a temporary stop-gap. Look at the details & conditions... it's totally unsustainable.

@brett_mcgurk #pt: With (1) #Syria policy in chaos, (2) pressure rising against us in #Baghdad, (3) and conditions in #Syria & #Iraq favoring #ISIS's survival, things don't look good.

Plus, the #ISIS problem remaining today is huge - far bigger than in 2010.

For more on this, read me here:
@brett_mcgurk For today's @MiddleEastInst Monday Briefing, I took a quick look at the implications of #ISIS's territorial defeat in #Syria & #Iraq and the [many] challenges ahead:

@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst While most agree that #ISIS is far from over, there's a worrying blindness appearing amongst some who dismiss what they can't see out in the open see as a figment of others' creation.

By design, much of #ISIS's non-military activity today is either concealed from view or blurry.
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst #pt: As some like @MosulEye have pointed out, #ISIS predation on some of #Iraq's vulnerable communities (1) is still ongoing but (2) few of those victimized are in a position to publicize it.

Security & dependent relationships have got even more complex than in the pre-2014 era.
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye #pt: It's going to take time for some of these activities to emerge more clearly in public, but as I've come to understand recently, authorities (#Baghdad & OIR members) are well aware of the depth & continuation of some of #ISIS most engrained behaviors beyond military violence.
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye 24hrs after the US-backed #SDF proclaimed victory against #ISIS, 7 of its forces were killed in an #ISIS assault on a checkpoint west of #Manbij last night.

#MMC spokesman @shervanderwish blamed the attack on an #ISIS "sleeper cell."
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye @shervanderwish #pt: In the last 36hrs, #ISIS has been blamed/claimed responsibility for at least 7 attacks on #SDF-linked targets in eastern #Syria - in #Aleppo, #Raqqa & Deir ez Zour governorates.
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye @shervanderwish #pt: Next door in #Iraq, #ISIS has conducted two notable attacks in the last 72hrs - one on an oilfield in Salah ad Din (late on Sunday) & another on #PMU personnel in #Sinjar.
@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye @shervanderwish I filmed a 2-min briefing for @MiddleEastInst, looking at "The End of the #ISIS Caliphate," the challenges ahead & what's likely to come next in #Syria & #Iraq.

You can watch it here:

@brett_mcgurk @MiddleEastInst @MosulEye @shervanderwish As the saying goes, 'the moment you announce your intent to withdraw, you'll be treated as if you've already withdrawn.'

- @amberinzaman says #SDF components are dealing with #Assad more than ever before.

This is excellent from @Adam_Bachaa - it underlines clearly the core value of #Iraq for #ISIS & its operations, with #Syria not all that far behind.

@Adam_Bachaa BREAKING - x4 #ISIS suicide bombers just detonated their explosives in the al-Deraiyya district of #Raqqa, #Syria.

#SDF have confirmed, but released no other details.
@Adam_Bachaa An #ISIS IED attack targeted two #SDF commanders traveling near #Hajin in eastern #Syria overnight - no fatalities.
@Adam_Bachaa This piece by @SaraHunaidi is very good.

She says (1) #ISIS is currently regrouping in the desert north of #Suwayda & (2) details how the #Assad regime effectively facilitated #ISIS's massacre there on July 25 to coerce Druze volunteers for the Army.

@Adam_Bachaa @SaraHunaidi According to @_Caki__, #ISIS has conducted 12 attacks in the past 4 days in eastern #Syria.

An average of 3 attacks/day.
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