ISIS continued to develop its regional presence despite setbacks in Iraq and Syria in February. The organization launched spectacular attacks to weaken security in Iraq and Syria as it faces territorial losses, declining revenue, and decreased foreign fighter inflows in both countries. ISIS meanwhile strengthened its presence in Libya, launching large-scale attacks and defending its stronghold of Sirte despite ground opposition from rival militant groups and airstrikes by the U.S. and other actors. ISIS also maintained operational capability in other regions, as demonstrated by its attacks in the Gulf, Maghreb, and the Caucasus. ISIS’s military campaigns and safe haven outside of Iraq and Syria give it strategic resiliency that will ensure its longevity despite pressure on its Caliphate.
Claire Coyne & Harleen Gambhir