The End of 'Caliphate's Capital'
05 June 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
War is not new to Raqqa. The city was previously destroyed and occupied by
Mongols who had settled there until they were expelled by force.
Today, Raqqa is about to finally be liberated from ISIS, which have carried
out unimaginable heinousness against its people; documented and publicized by
their own militants.
They have videotaped themselves committing mass murder, throwing people off
rooftops, bragging about raping girls in schools, circulating news about
killing foreigners and dragging people to forced labor.
Raqqa has become the world capital of horror after it transformed into a camp
where terrorists from different countries and nationalities gathered, forming
a terrorist army.
The reason why ISIS has chosen this city precisely as its capital is because
of its oil wells and facilities, which can fund its scheme to become a state.
The terrorist group has sold oil to whoever asked for it, and through its
deals has reconciled with Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus, who was their
In exchange for buying oil, ISIS has operated as an army for the Syrian
regime's Head Assad, fighting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other opposition
factions and has participated in battles against Kurdish forces.
Regarding the U.S.-led coalition, the battle of Raqqa is its most important
military and political work since five years. The administration of U.S.
President Barack Obama needs a huge propaganda victory after escalated
criticism against its submissive stance.
If Raqqa is liberated, it will be its only major military achievement since
the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Liberating Raqqa from ISIS is also important because it will destroy the
''caliphate'' as a whole, not only its capital. It also counters the concept
of the capital that implies the existence of an Islamic state; which is a
virtual state on computer boards and not in real life.
By killing and clearing thousands of ISIS militants from their stronghold, the
coalition will send a strong message to other extremist groups supporting ISIS
and al-Nusra Front that have been using pictures in Raqqa to convince Muslim
communities that they have succeeded in establishing a ''caliphate'' state.
Certainly, what is taped in Raqqa has boosted the extremists' propaganda among
youth, who have been lured by calls for jihad and have found the idea of
establishing a caliphate attractive, unlike al-Qaeda's concept in Afghanistan
and Iraq that focused on the organization's conception despite being able to
transform cities like Fallujah into a mobilization zone.
In case the U.S.-led coalition was able to succeed in its attack in the coming
few days and liberate Raqqa from ISIS, the coalition will benefit in terms of
military and propaganda. Yet, what will follow this success?
Victory will be thrilling when reported on TV, but its results will be limited
on the ground. We have previously witnessed how terrorist groups run away like
mice and build new hiding places then resume their battle.
ISIS is expected to start minimizing its presence in Raqqa as it has already
done in Iraq's Anbar province before seizing the city of Mosul. It is also
expected to then target other Syrian cities.
Apart from the propaganda gains of liberating Raqqa, the U.S.-led coalition
will not succeed in curbing ISIS's threat because the organization lives off
chaos in Syria and benefits from the criminality of Assad's regime against
most of the citizens.
Millions of Syrians are displaced and millions have lost their relatives due
to the Syrian regime's crimes along with Iran, the so-called Hezbollah, and
Russia, which are committing acts that are not less hideous than those
committed by ISIS.
Around half a million Syrians have been killed in the past five years as a
result of the insistence on keeping Assad in power.
Neither ISIS nor any other terrorist organization will find it difficult to
recruit thousands of Syrians and others if they decide to revert to their old
slogans that target Assad's regime, which it later abandoned after declaring
the caliphate all over the world.
ISIS will let Syrians join it now, especially after the northern borders,
which allowed extremists to flow from different countries, were closed.
ISIS will lose its capital, and it will suffer a propaganda defeat worldwide.
It may later lose the city of Fallujah in Iraq. However, these victories will
not eliminate terrorism in Iraq and Syria as they are mere pursuits from one
city to another.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.