Contours for the Middle East

On 09 October 2016, it was reported that ISIS had lost more than 30% of the territory, it controlled in January 2015. However, ISIS losses have considerably slowed down, in the last three months, since July 2016. Observers have pointed out that the slow down coincides with shift in focus of Russian airstrikes; from ISIS to consolidating Syrian Government power against Aleppo.

Is there Consolidation of Power in Syria?
The Syrian Civil War commenced in 2011, with the Arab Spring and involved a multi-sided conflict, with the intention of ousting President Bashar al-Assad. All the rebel factions received substantial support from foreign actors; making it a proxy war between regional and global powers. Russia’s priority of consolidating President Assad, is likely to transform the Syrian Civil War from a multi-party conflict to a binary one; by clubbing all Jihadist groups including ISIS, as one enemy.

Where are we Heading?
The war in Iraq-Syria is developing on two distinct centers; Aleppo (Syria) and Mosul (Iraq). At Aleppo, the Syrian Rebel forces face defeat at the hands of the Russia-assisted Syrian Army; but urban battles like obtaining in Aleppo are expected to take weeks, if not months, to suppress. The US-assisted Iraqi Armed forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga are likely to force the ISIS to a standoff, at Mosul; where a similar siege, humanitarian crisis and delayed urban warfare is likely to ensue.

What is the post-conflict strategy?
The prolonged war The prolonged conflict in Syria-Iraq had resulted in a humanitarian tragedy with an estimated 2.5Lakh people losing their lives and 11Million being displaced. It appears that in the ensuing months, Syrian Government forces shall consolidate power in Syria while Iraqi & Kurdish forces may defeat the ISIS. However, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, inadequate attention is being given to post-conflict dynamics. The UN is best placed for managing the emerging challenges, of Iraq-Syria region. A new UN peace-keeping mission shall require the invitation of parties to the conflict (Syria, Iraq, Turkey & Israel) and contributions from donor countries. The new UN SG Antonio Guterres will assume office on 01 January 2017, with his plate full.
Sources: BBC, Wikipedia, New York Times