We have identified the Islamic State as the current center of gravity in the Middle East, driving geopolitical developments in the region. This assessment is based on the fact that no country or coalition is likely to defeat IS because of the significantly diverging interests of the various players in the anti-IS camp. This situation has become more complicated with the death last week of the leader of Saudi Arabia’s main Syrian proxy group, which opposes the Bashar al-Assad regime and is considered a moderate rebel force by the Saudis.
Although the current the focal point of the fight against the Islamic State in Syria is the battle between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the areas where Kurdish and IS territory overlap, this will not help to uproot IS from its Syrian strongholds. The Kurds operate in a limited area in the country’s north and northeast and, therefore, eliminating IS strongholds will require a Sunni Arab force active in other parts of the country. And