Dissent, Defeats, Corruption Taking Toll on ISIS

Two recent reports in major publications have documented the growing discontent within the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is beginning to threaten the group’s cohesion, even as it seeks to expand upon the territory it controls.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday:

Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines, and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic state.

The anecdotal reports, drawn from activists and residents of areas under Islamic State control, don’t offer any indication that the group faces an immediate challenge to its stranglehold over the mostly Sunni provinces of eastern Syria and western Iraq that form the backbone of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Battlefield reversals have come mostly on the fringes of its territory, while organized opposition remains unlikely as long as viable alternatives are lacking and the fear of vicious retribution remains high, Syrians, Iraqis and analysts say.

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