"Going after IS-held Raqqa would mean moving deeper into an explosive mix of regional and international rivalries, including a proxy war that has pitted the United States against Russia and its allies. The fight against IS in northeastern Syria also underlines a U.S. reliance on its one effective partner there—Syria’s Kurds. Such an alliance for a Raqqa campaign threatens to ignite a new conflict, with another U.S. partner, NATO member Turkey, and its allied Syrian rebels," Sarah El Deeb writes for the Associated Press.
"As its leaders are picked off from the sky, as its economic resources run dry, and as its prized ‘caliphate’ slips from its grasp—Mosul likely being the next casualty—the Islamic State’s supporters are looking for explanations for why the tide of war has turned against them. The facts on the ground, after all, no longer support the Islamic State’s triumphalist slogan: Remaining and Expanding (baqiya wa-tatamaddad). How, one may well ask, does a group that projected such unbounded confidence, whose legitimacy seemed to rest on seizing and controlling large territories, adjust its message to less fortunate circumstances?" Cole Bunzel writes for Foreign Policy.
"The war against the Islamic State is unwinnable without filling the political and security vacuum that now exists in too much of Iraq. The Islamic State’s eventual retreat from Mosul will be a much-needed victory for the country. But unless the government in Baghdad enables Iraqi Sunnis to fill that void, it will once again emerge from the desert," Hassan Hassan writes for the New York Times.