The Global Post quotes Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Ramzy Mardini on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:
IS’ inability to cultivate even one regional ally has left it in a vulnerable position. Beyond some support in the southern Ma’an province of Jordan and marginal clerics in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq, it has no significant support from other groups. “They are not only overextended, but their brutality and threatening presence toward all state and non-state actors in the region make their survival fundamentals weak. They are geographically encircled and vulnerable to air power. At some point, there will be internal pushback from the local population. It’s been a great ride, but it’s one that isn’t self-sustaining,” says Ramzy Mardini, non-resident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.
How does it all end? The group could come under new leadership eventually, but that might not change much. IS’ mysterious current head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took power in 2010 when prior leader Abu Ayoub al-Masri was assassinated by the US military. Al-Masri had been the successor to Abu Masub al-Zarqawi after his death in 2006. “At some point, Baghdadi will be captured or killed, but it won’t collapse the Islamic State,” says Mardini. “[IS] could possibly fragment or some fighters might defect to other insurgent or jihadi groups.”