Editor’s note: On March 21, 2019, Syrian Democratic Forces reportedly took a village called Baghuz – and with it, the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Syria. This is the sort of thing that’s true only so long as you don’t think about it too much. The underlying problems that led to the group’s emergence have not gone away, nor have the thousands of IS soldiers and supporters who have melted back into their local populations. For a fuller picture of how the Islamic State came to be, and why it is down but not out, we republish the following analysis, which originally ran in February 2018.
Shortly after New Year’s Day, 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the father of the Republic of Turkey – traveled to the city of Izmir, on the coast of the Aegean Sea. His presidency, like the republic itself, was only a year old. Both had emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire’s recent defeat in World War I, after which the empire had been dismembered by its enemies
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