There’s an increasing number of reports stating that after just a week of Russian airstrikes against ISIL (Islamic State) positions, there’s panic and desertion everywhere. About a thousand extremists have already abandoned their positions in Syria and are now heading in the direction of Iraq, Turkey and a number of European states. Successful operations carried out in cooperation with the regular Syrian army has not only managed to interrupt a series of relatively easy victories that ISIL had been scoring on the field of battle, but also stopped the flow of militants from abroad.
According to the Arabic television channel Al-Mayadeen, ISIL members are urgently evacuating their families, fearing new air raids. In a situation where command centers are getting obliterated, there’s desertion to be found everywhere. According to numerous experts, just the first few days of Russia’s campaign have caused the Islamic State more damage than a year of the so-called “war on terrorism” in Syria, launched by the United States, and then supported by the UK, France, Germany Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
The successful counterattack of the Syrian army, with Russian warplanes flying close air support, aggravated the already complicated relations between militants of this Islamist organization, causing morale to sink lower. It went as far as forcing ISIL to create a special “military police”, that is now entrusted with the duty of checking special papers that testify that a militant is carrying out his duties in a designated location.
Among the first ones out the door are those who joined ISIL for the possibility of rapid enrichment. They have finally realized that the promises they were given will never come true, therefore those “adventurous spirits” have no intent of becoming cannon fodder in an actual war, especially now, when purposely ineffective air strikes of the United States and its allies have been replaced by Russian bombs raining from the sky on Islamist military facilities and training camps.
Recently the Islamic State is facing serious financial problems since the group is retreating from its positions in oil-rich areas it had been holding, and it’s hardly a secret that this had been making a lot of money. All of ISIL militants were getting 350 dollars a month in addition to generous bonuses for participating in different operations, the size of the bonus depended on the success of the operation. However, against the massive joint anti-terrorist operation in Syria, the leader of the Islamic state Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has recently issued a decree to reduce the monthly payment to just 100 dollars. It provoked some major discontent among jihadists, which according to the British newspaper The Daily Mirror, are leaving ISIL in droves, while paying no heed to fact that they’re going to be executed if they get caught.
Undoubtedly, financial problems that ISIL is experiencing now will affect the number of militants in both the Middle Eastern and North African regions, where the group was seeking ways to expand its sphere of influence. However, since the air raids have finally become effective in Syria due to Russia’s involvement, the remaining funds are not large enough to cover the pay of all regular militants in ISIL, which has already become the cause of the growing discontent within the group. Many foreigners are trying to contact the family or the authorities of the country of their origin for those to help them return home, which is destroying the myth of ISIL’s invincibility in public perception.
Foreign sponsors of ISIL are accusing this organization of abandoning the execution of the “prime objective” – overthrowing the sitting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, instead ISIL has been stuck in fighting with other rebel groups and the obsessive quest of uncovering “spies” and “traitors”. Internal conflicts along ethnic lines have also intensified, in particular, between Chechens and Iraqis, Uzbeks and Chechens, Tunisians and immigrants from other countries. Many militants prefer to be grouped based on a nationality basis, which contradicts to the fundamentals of ISIL ideology.
A growing resentment towards higher ranks within the group is aggravated by cases of inequality, injustice and racism, along with corruption and the behavior of certain warlords and “emirs” that contradicts the initial idea of unity and equality that would be found by foreigners in ISIL. In addition, massive executions of civilians, countless cases of torture and oppression that can be seen within the territories occupied by the Islamic State are repelling those do-gooders who have joined the ranks of the groups out of desire “to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”
While contacting their relatives at home, militants are openly complaining that they do not have access to the western food and gadgets they have grown accustomed to, while being deprived of the newly found benefits of being an Islamist – higher wages, comfortable life, women slaves, to name a few. There’s shortages of electricity, food, drinking water and medical assistance. They feel that the better part of them will die in the near future if they are unable to leave ISIL. As for militants from Western countries, those who were convinced that they joined a real-life Indiana Jones adventure, their determination to seek adventure is now clearly exhausted.
For the reasons stated above a coordinated push against this terrorist group launched a coalition of different states can allow the world to get read of this threat to humanity, which had been nurtured by the West for years in hopes that it would be able to put it to good use toward its criminal plans.
Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.