Highly recommended piece.
For the purposes of this post, the term ‘jihadist’ refers to the movement begun by Abu Musa’ab al-Zarqawi that led to the creation of al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (The Islamic State); the caliphate; ISIS; ISIL
To place the center of gravity of the caliphate on a map, one needs to answer two questions: “How do the jihadists fight? What do they fight for in terms of military objectives?” And to understand jihadist military strategy one needs to understand the relative priority they give to the pursuit of war, rather than the pursuit of governance.
If they were indeed deeply committed to governance, common sense would have it that the jihadists would seek to consolidate gains, buy time, and protect territory. However, they seem to prefer to give up territory rather than fight pitches battles, they invite international and regional powers to attack them, and they seem to place more emphasis on cowing…
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