Air War In Syria Not Exactly Going As Planned

So far at least, the air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria do not seem to be having much of an impact.

Obama Syria

President Obama’s decision to extend the war against the Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL depending on who you’re talking to and what they call it, doesn’t seem to be going so well so far:

The U.S.-led air war in Syria has gotten off to a rocky start, with even the Syrian rebel groups closest to the United States turning against it, U.S. ally Turkey refusing to contribute and the plight of a beleaguered Kurdish town exposing the limitations of the strategy.

U.S. officials caution that the strikes are just the beginning of a broader strategy that could take years to carry out. But the anger that the attacks have stirred risks undermining the effort, analysts and rebels say.

The main beneficiary of the strikes so far appears to be President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have taken advantage of the shift in the military balance to step up attacks against the moderate rebels designated by President Obama as partners of the United States in the war against extremists.

The U.S. targets have included oil facilities, a granary and an electricity plant under Islamic State control. The damage to those facilities has caused shortages and price hikes across the rebel-held north that are harming ordinary Syrians more than the well-funded militants, residents and activists say.

At the start of the air campaign, dozens of U.S. cruise missiles were fired into areas controlled by the moderate rebels, who are supposed to be fighting the Islamic State. Syrians who had in the past appealed for American intervention against Assad have been staging demonstrations denouncing the United States and burning the American flag.

“Everyone is angry with the airstrikes. For three years we have been asking for support, and now the West decides to hit only the Islamic State?” said Abu Wassim, a rebel fighter in the northern province of Idlib. The strikes are weakening the Islamic State, he said, but “empowering the regime.”

Since the outcry about the choice of targeting in the first days of the air campaign, the majority of coalition attacks have been concentrated in the three northern and eastern provinces governed by the Islamic State as part of its self-proclaimed caliphate, which stretches across the Syrian border into Iraq.

“Everyone is angry with the airstrikes. For three years we have been asking for support, and now the West decides to hit only the Islamic State?” said Abu Wassim, a rebel fighter in the northern province of Idlib. The strikes are weakening the Islamic State, he said, but “empowering the regime.”

Since the outcry about the choice of targeting in the first days of the air campaign, the majority of coalition attacks have been concentrated in the three northern and eastern provinces governed by the Islamic State as part of its self-proclaimed caliphate, which stretches across the Syrian border into Iraq.

U.S. officials say the strikes are working to achieve the core American objective — to degrade and ultimately defeat the militants.

“The airstrikes are hitting the targets they are intended to hit,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told journalists Friday. “They take out ISIL positions. They take out ISIL tanks. They take out ISIL weapons. That’s obviously helping,” she said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Residents of Islamic State-
controlled areas say the attacks have had a noticeable impact on the jihadist group’s tactics and behavior, forcing it to adopt a lower profile to avoid detection from the air.

In their self-styled capital of Raqqah, the foreign jihadists who until recently swept through the streets in armored convoys, showing off American Humvees and other booty captured from the Iraqi army, now drive around in regular vehicles, according to residents. A wealthy neighborhood of spacious villas has been abandoned by the Chechen, European, Arab and other foreign fighters who had moved in. They have relocated to apartments in the city center, blending in among the ordinary citizens, residents say.

Elsewhere, the militants have vacated headquarters, checkpoints, command posts, courts and other facilities, many of which had been conspicuously painted with the Islamic State’s distinctive black-and-white logo.

From that description you might think that the fight is going well, but it seems apparent that what is actually occurring is that Islamic State fighters are adapting in response to the airstrikes, not so much that the strikes are rolling them back:

But the attacks have not loosened the militants’ grip on power, he and other residents said, or had any significant impact on the militants’ capacity to launch offensives and capture territory, as the assault on the Kurdish border town of Kobane has demonstrated. Over a two-week period, fighters swept unimpeded through a string of villages around the town. Only when they reached the town itself did the U.S. military weigh in with intensified strikes.

U.S. officials have defended the response to the Kobane battle by pointing to the broader strategy, which is primarily aimed at rolling back the Islamic State’s gains in Iraq.

“In Syria, the purpose of the airstrikes largely is to get at this group’s ability to sustain itself, to resupply, to finance, to command and control,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, told reporters last week. “They use Syria as the sanctuary and safe haven so that they can operate in Iraq.”

In Iraq, however, the United States has allies beyond the borders of the Islamic State’s territories who back the airstrikes, including the Iraqi government and the leaders of the semiautonomous Kurdish region. At least in some parts of the country, those allies are in a position to dispatch ground forces to capitalize on the airstrikes.

In Syria, the strikes have highlighted the absence of U.S. partners on the ground. Moderate rebels grouped in the Free Syrian Army were pushed out of the Islamic State’s northeastern strongholds during fierce fighting over the summer and now have no presence in the areas that are the chief target of the coalition attacks.

The one front on which the rebels are battling the Islamic State, in the northern province of Aleppo, has not seen any coalition airstrikes, even though rebels say they have asked for them.

Instead, the Syrian government launched a new offensive last week aimed at cutting off rebel supply lines to Aleppo city a few miles farther south, forcing the rebels to redirect troops from the fight with the militants.

There was always going to be something contradictory about the President’s decision to extend his war against ISIS into Syria, especially given the fact that its ultimate success is so heavily reliant on the support and assistance of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. As the linked article makes clear, the rebels would prefer that our bombing campaign include attacks against the government in Damascus as well as the Islamic State/ISIS. The problem with that position from the American perspective, of course, is that attacking the Syrian Government at the same time that we are trying to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State is not really a strategy that is going to work well together. Weakening the Assad regime is likely to work to the benefit of the militants as it is to benefit the so-called “moderates,” for example, by allowing them to expand their territory inside Syria even as other parts of the area they are controlling gets hit from the air by Americans and other weaponry. Additionally, if we start turning our attention to Assad, then it is only likely to make the “moderates” less likely to pursue ISIS in favor of their true goal of overthrowing the regime in Damascus. So, in addition to strengthening the Islamic State to at leas some degree, going after the Assad regime would likely make it less likely that the “degrade and destroy” strategy will work any time soon since the ground forces we are relying on will be paying attention to the goal that they believe to be more important, overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad.

Another argument against the idea of turning this war into a war against Assad is the danger of what might happen if he is actually deposed. This is something that has been discussed virtually since the civil war in Syria started, and the picture of such as future is, if anything, even less pretty today than it was then. With nothing to hold them together, the various ethnic and religious factions inside Syria would turn on each other. Sunni Muslims against Shia Muslims. Muslims of both factions against the Alawaites and the Christians that form a significant part of the support for the Assad regime. In the ensuing chaos, it’s easy to see who the major beneficiaries would be, and it wouldn’t be the “moderate” rebels, who may not turn out to be so moderate themselves in a post-Assad Syria. The beneficiaries would be the very Islamic State that we are seeking to “degrade and destroy.” What this means, of course, is that to the extent the United States is doing anything right in Syria, and there’s very little evidence of that, choosing to not make the nation a two-front war by simultaneously going after Assad is the right choice. Indeed, whether we like it or not, the Assad regime is a de facto ally in our war against ISIS and there’s very little that will change that.

The important takeaway here, though, is that the air war against the Islamic State in Syria does not appear to be going well so far. Granted, it is less than a month old and we’ve no doubt had success destroying targets and ordinance. So far at least, though, it doesn’t seem to be deterring ISIS in either their advances against the city of Kobani near the Turkish border or their advances into Anbar province in Iraq and what looks for all the world like an effort to get closer to Baghdad, an advance that is leading the leader of the province to call on the United States to send ground troops. Meanwhile, car bombs in several Baghdad Shia neighborhoods today killed 43 people and injured scores more.  I’m no military strategist, but it doesn’t look to me like the Islamic State is on the run.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. beth says:

    And your plan seems to be?
    1. Complain about Obama’s plan.
    2. ???????
    3. Mideast peace.

    Are you for sending in ground troops and escalating this to a full scale war? Enquiring minds want to know.

  2. @beth:

    I oppose the very idea of us being involved in this conflict in any respect, but that doesn’t preclude me or anyone else who feels that way from pointing out that the President’s plan isn’t working.

    And, no, I do not support ground troops and I would oppose such a move by this or any President even more than I would oppose the air strikes.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I think it’s inevitable we will have boots on the ground in Iraq and probably 10’s of thousands of them. I don’t see us letting Iraq fall. As for Syria – let the Iranians and Russians deal with.

  4. beth says:

    @Doug Mataconis: And any column you wrote explaining your position and reasons would be way more interesting to read than what you did write.

  5. @beth:

    I have written several pieces since August explaining why the United States should not be intervening in this war. I have written many, many pieces since 2011 explaining why we should not be intervening to overturn the government of Bashar Assad.

  6. OldSouth says:

    The Great One assured us in 2008 that wars would cease, the planet would heal itself, and that he would restrain federal spending. in 2012, he assured us that he had defeated Al Qaeda, and brought the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion. In 2014, he referred to ISIL as ‘The JV Team’.

    Need we continue with the litany, the constant screaming dissonance between his words and that which actually occurs in the world in which wields so much power?

    Mataconis is absolutely correct to publish this article. And, as a vet with real experience, he has a point of view that deserves a listen.

    Obama is in waaaaaaay over his head, and a lot of innocent people are suffering and dying for his lack of integrity, credibility and judgement. The airstrikes will not work, because they can’t. If Obama can’t see this, he is stone blind. If he can, but continues anyway, he just may have some other agenda in mind, and may not have our best interests at heart.

  7. anjin-san says:


    in 2012, he assured us that he had defeated Al Qaeda

    Please document this claim.

  8. Rick DeMent says:


    If you think Obama is “over his head” you should be thanking your lucky stares we aren’t dealing with a president Romney.

    As for what Obama can and can’t I’m pretty sure he was / is more than skeptical about the usefulness of airstrikes, but in the fact of spittle flecked demands from the chicken hawk caucus to “do something” I think we should all be relieved that at least he picked an action that can’t hurt the US directly.

  9. wr says:

    @Rick DeMent: “If you think Obama is “over his head” you should be thanking your lucky stares we aren’t dealing with a president Romney.”

    If Romney were president, Isis would be gone already. Using all his knowledge and experience, he would have bought the entire organization, and then laid off all the terrorists.

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m no military strategist, but it doesn’t look to me like the Islamic State is on the run.

    Actually, they are on the run. The problem is, they’re running forward.

  11. wr says:

    This post would have been perfect if Doug had appended “Unlike every other war in history” to the front of the headline.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    ISIS is already screwed. Paint me a picture of ISIS success. Can they take Jordan? No. Lebanon? No. Turkey? No. The Kurds? No. Baghdad? No. Which leaves them where, exactly and doing what? I still worry about a move against Saudi Arabia, but unless the KSA collapses from within, ISIS has got nuthin’. They are in a box and already past their peak strength.

    At about this point in the war against Japan we were still extinguishing fires at Pearl Harbor. But within days of Pearl Harbor it was clear to anyone who owned a map and could count that Japan was going to lose. Same thing here. Maybe we could wait a few weeks at least to declare defeat.

  13. michael reynolds says:


    Every single thing you said is false.

  14. @michael reynolds:

    A “win” for ISIS is far different than a “win” for us, which is nearly impossible to achieve.

    And, even if we win, we could still lose.

  15. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “A “win” for ISIS is far different than a “win” for us, which is nearly impossible to achieve.”

    If you choose to define a “win” as “that thing which is nearly impossible to achieve.” Or “bring peace and stability to the region forever.” Or “convert them all to Christianity.”

    We don’t need to make the region safe for United Fruit — we’re not fighting that kind of war anymore.

  16. @wr:

    The only thing we’ll be doing is setting the stage for the next war we’ll be fighting in the Middle East.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @OldSouth: “The Great One”?
    okay, no need to read the rest, we know where you’re coming from.

    Republicans can’t complain though, they wanted the president to stop dithering, etc, and now that he’s taken action all they can do is whine about his non-inaction.

  18. Bandit says:

    This is a real conundrum for the lunatic OTB losers. For once they actually have to hope the US wins. Obama over his head? Must be in the shallow end of the wading pool.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @OldSouth: Is “OldSouth” just the Confederate States of America?

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The only thing we’ll be doing is setting the stage for the next war we’ll be fighting in the Middle East.

    Two things:

    1. This is a war the American people want — for better or worse. It’s not a war that Obama could realistically avoid. Keeping it as an air war makes it much, much easier to get out when and if the American people turn against it.

    2. I believe our stated goal was to pound them from the air to give the local forces on the ground a chance to fight back. We can’t actually force the locals to fight ISIS if they don’t want to. Realistically, we cannot determine what the region will look like five years from now, but we can use our air power to determine what it will not look like — there will be no Islamic State holding large swaths of land. So far, I see no signs that ISIS will be able to dig in and be a significant long term player.

    And, while we are at it, getting the Turks onboard to do anything to help the Kurds is going to be nearly impossible. And, if the Turks aren’t going to cooperate, we really should be helping our Kurdish friends set up shop as an independent Kurdistan, even though that would annoy the Turks. The Kurds have been much more loyal friends, and we aren’t going to be able to hold Iraq together anyway.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We don’t need a win. ISIS doesn’t threaten us, at least not in its present iteration. Our goal is stability in the region and no new threat to US and allied territory. I know our stated goal is a unified Iraq, but that’s not really important. Neither is the fall of Assad. What really matters is that oil flows and terrorists do not.

    In fact a “win” as usually defined may be the less attractive option. It’s good when potential terrorists have a home address. If ISIS attacks the US it frees Mr. Obama to unleash strategic bombing and the Marines, which is suicide for ISIS. So we pen ISIS in – which we have done – and the regional powers nibble them to death with the help of US air power.

    Remember when you were deriding the alliance as not really being an alliance? You were dead wrong. US, UK, France, KSA, UAE, Australia, Netherlands and Denmark are already in on the bombing.

    Now, rather than jump out ahead to be as wrong in the rest of this conflict as you’ve been about the alliance, and as wrong as you were about Obamacare, why don’t you give it a few months? Here’s a bench mark:

    December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor.
    March 11, 1942 — 3 months later, MacArthur flees the Philippines.
    May 7, 1942 – Coral Sea, 5 months after Pearl.
    August 7, 1942 – Marines hit Guadalcanal, the first retaking of territory. 8 months after Pearl.

    All through this, the Japanese were still expanding in some areas and winning some battles. And that war actually mattered to us.

  22. @michael reynolds:

    “ISIS doesn’t threaten us”

    Exactly. We shouldn’t be involved in this at all. Case closed.

  23. @michael reynolds:

    And, also, Michael I know you’re far too intelligent to be making arguments that try to equate this thing to World War II. It’s not World War II, it’s not even the Persian Gulf War. Hell, it’s not even Bush’s invasion of Panama in 1989 to arrest Noriega.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I meant a threat to us domestically. Unless you’ve got a wind-powered car we still need the oil to flow. And oil = money = power. You want ISIS sitting in Riyadh? You want them at the Straits of Hormuz?

    Nor was I “equating.” I was pointing out that a few weeks is rather early to be going Chicken Little on this. It takes time to turn things around.

  25. michael reynolds says:

    By the way, the argument that we should only get involved when our very existence is at risk is short-sighted. Does that mole on your neck threaten you? No. Leave it there until it turns into melanoma and you’re already dead.

  26. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: I would think a force of tanks and some contingents of snipers and special forces supporting the Iraqis, backed by air power, could put ISIS on the run, all the way to the Iranian border. This would be a quick strike, scorched earth mission.
    People do not want a long term mission. With the right planning, equipment, and personnel , this should be a short operation. Iraqi forces can do the mopping up this time.

  27. Room 237 says:


    How about this for a plan:

    1. Stay out

    2. Help the refugees

    3. Let the Syrian people work out this for themselves

    Getting involved in this region constantly makes things worse.

  28. Molly Pitcher says:


    “Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the Iraq war is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, Al Qeada has been decimated, Osama Bin Laden is dead.”
    —President Obama, November 1, 2014

  29. Robert C says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Michael….fear mongering…..most moles do not become melanoma…straw man anyone?


  30. aFloridian says:

    I have been frustrated from the beginning about Obama’s and the media’s need (and I understand they kind of have to say it, because we’re “the beacon of freedom”) to pay lip service to our desire to remove Assad. Why on earth would we ever want Assad out of power?

    Syria long ago stopped being any kind of threat or antagonist to America. Like Iraq under the Ba’ath party, women have a lot more freedom under Assad’s secular Alawite regime than they would ever have under a Sunni or Shia one. More broadly, it’s clear now, and it kinda was then, that removing/allowing to be removed Gaddaf and Mubarak were terrible mistakes. It seem to be working itself out in Egypt, but Libya is currently a virtual Somalia. It’s never been in America’s interest to support populist (Islamist) governments over brutal Middle Eastern dictators willing to promote/allow a secular agenda.

    We don’t to like it, but encouraging Arabs to govern themselves through toxic Islamist policies is never going to be a plus for us. I’m also not a huge fan of our stubborn insistence that the artificial state of Iraq (or Syria for that matter) absolutely remain a single entity. We currently have a perfect opportunity to watch a Kurdish homeland coalesce from Kobane to Irbil. If Assad’s regime ever does fall, steps ought to be taken to protect the Alawites and Christians along the coast, because there will be vicious reprisals, and the mere fact that they are not Islamic makes them our natural allies in the region (and that’s not to say they cannot devise their own special methods of brutality – see, e.g., Phalange, but I maintain it is easier for the west to negotiate with, and understand, Alawites, Druz, Jews, Assyrians, other Christians, than it is with a religion which keeps its women as virtual chattel and shows a unique disposition towards the worthlessness of life on this mortal coil.

    For this last bit though, about the “three-state solution” to Iraq, or a possible partition of Syria (right now with a lovely modern-day-terrorist-Caliphate inhabiting some prime central desert real estate) I fully recognize that there are, unfortunately for the people involved, bigger games we are playing here, particularly with Russia, Iran, and Turkey – the old international chess match. Three state solution sees the Sunni Iraqis fall under the sway of Saudi Arabia or IS-types, and sends southern Iraq even deeper down the rabbit hole of Iranian dominion. And I much as I sympathize with the stateless Kurds (their willingness to allow refugees refuge is appreciated, even if I do yet distrust their long term beliefs) any state would potentially inflame all of Turkey (most important for us), Iran, and rump-state-Syria. And Russia, as always, breathing down everyone’s neck and arming whatever future-terrorists (I mean, moderate rebels) we forgot about.

    Erm, so yeah, that was a long post and it’s pretty clear the Middle East remains in deep doo-doo. And we haven’t even touched on Israel and that shimmering mirage of a two-state-solution amidst the -fish-in-a-barrelism of the Israeli police state (and the American-Israeli lapdog lobby).

    There’s still hope – maybe one day our dreams will come true and the Middle East will be full of unveiled, slightly overweight, educated women obsessing about pumpkin spice lattes and turning Victoria’s Secret bags into purses while their husbands spend what little money they don’t spend on spectator sports on late night trips to Taco Bell, 24-hour gym memberships, and online pornography (they’ll probably just steal that though) That is our end-game, right? Conquering the world through soft-power by turning every into American-style manboy consumers? Certainly they won’t fight us once they ARE us? I’m actually pretty serious about that, whether I’m a huge fan of our whole culture or not. Or we can try Russia’s way again. Or China’s, although I’m still not sure how that ends.

  31. Just 'nutha says:

    @OldSouth: While I will agree that Obama is in way over his head, fairness dictates that I must also note that he wasn’t the one who walked us into the fen in the first place. And by the time that our bold Congressional leadership during the administration that did walk us in in the first place declared the project “a quagmire,” the information classified as “a day late and a dollar short.”

    Just sayin’.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    No one has yet suggested a better way to deal with ISIS, Assad, the Kurds, Iran and the Baghdad Clown College. I’d submit that anyone claiming Mr. Obama is in over his head needs to at least make the effort.

    I note an interesting silence in Tel Aviv. Right-wingers might want to ask why that is. They might also wonder why we have so quickly assembled a large coalition. And, as I suggested to Doug, they might want to ask just what they think ISIS has by way of winning strategy.

    Because otherwise I kind of think you’re just lazy, ill-informed loud mouths.

  33. beth says:

    @Molly Pitcher: You need to buy a dictionary. Decimated does not equal destroyed. Words have meanings for a reason.

  34. Stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    More lazy thinking by Doug.

    “ISIS doesn’t threaten us”

    Exactly. We shouldn’t be involved in this at all. Case closed.

    Let’s apply that elsewhere. What’s the direct threat to the USA if Russia takes Lithuania or even Poland? Would you be OK if the USA reneged on its treaty obligations on the very reasonable ground that Russia is not a direct threat to us?
    ISIS threatens one of our staunchest allies-the Iraqi Kurds. Had they defeated them, they would have acquired significant oil fields. Oil matters- both domestically and internationally. Doug, Would you be OK with a big rise in your gasoline bill? Didn’t think so.
    Now I do not remember any promises by the Obama Administration that the campaign would be over in a month. On the contrary, I distinctly remember the Administration promising the campaign would last years- and being excoriated by Doug and others for saying THAT.
    Realistically, Doug, you couldn’t possibly expect a quick victory based on the Administration rhetoric. That wasn’t part of their plan. You’re criticizing the mirror universe Obama who promised a quick and painless victory.
    Moreover, you really haven’t explained how Obama could have opted for non intervention when the public, whipped up by his political enemies, favored intervention. What’s your domestic strategy for explaining non intervention to the public, Mr. Political Pundit ?

  35. Eric Florack says:

    Perhaps someone should resurrect the word “unexpected”.

    It worked so long for Obama’s economic failures. Might work out, here.

  36. Tyrell says:

    Headlines last week: “Panetta describes bewildering actions of the White House”
    This morning: “ISIS gets victory” “ISIS on the move” “Baghdad in ISIS sights” “Air attacks ineffective” “Turkey doing nothing” “ISIS destruction only choice”

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack: “It worked so long for Obama’s economic failures. Might work out, here.”

    Yes, failures like taking action to prevent the economy from plunging into another Great Depression, failures like over 50 consecutive months of steady economic and employment growth. I suppose you were hoping that Obama would have let the government default on federal debt securities, as Republicans wanted.

  38. @michael reynolds:

    ISIS is already screwed. Paint me a picture of ISIS success.

    They continue receiving funding from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. to act as a proxy soldiers against Iran by disrupting Iran’s allies Syria and Iraq.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Except that we’ve apparently dried up those sources of funding and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are bombing them while Turkey is now giving us permission to use their bases to attack ISIS. So, I’d say “nice try” but it’s not even that.

    ISIS wants to be a Caliphate. Your scenario has them as a bunch of thugs wandering Anbar, which is to say pretty much status quo ante. All of which brings me back to: they’re already screwed. They are surrounded, cut off, fighting superior forces in every direction. Let me put it this way: no rational poker player would want to be holding their hand.

  40. Stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Mike , the non interventionists are committed to a narrative whether American interventions MUST end in disaster no matter what. There’s no possibility of success because that doesn’t fit their worldview. Joined with the idea that any war must be like WW2 and there’s no way Obama can win even if he does win at some level.
    Right now ISIS is still somewhat of a menace but they no longer hold Mosul dam and they aren’t threatening the Irbil oil fields any longer. That’s progress. But of course the non interventionists cannot admit there’s been progress.

  41. dazedandconfused says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I doubt they are getting much funding from outside anymore. They have become largely self-sufficient. Tthe Gulfies appear to have realized they have fallen off the tiger they were riding, their monarchy’s are the most likely next target. I would imagine it is now a high crime for one of their eccentric oil-sheiks to support IS, something that was winked at (at worst) for years.

    Turkey’s behavior is consistent with that view. If Erdo thought he were the next target he would be acting very differently.