In some Czech news they say there are about 30 000 men actively fighting for the so-called Islamic State over all. It comes from the reports of CIA and Soufan group (20 000 according to the newest analysis). Experts said that ground troops are not needed - yet, there are 5000 of them just for the US army.

How is it possible that the Western world's coalition against ISIS can't take over them?

(I understand this is a very broad topic - I will get by with a short and clear answer)

  • It's not Western alliance as it has member nations from all over the world, rather an international alliance. The reason would be because there are multiple factions. One lead by US and another leader by Russia. Both are divided on issue of Assad's government. Even inside the factions, there is disunity and lack of a common target, see differences of Arab States and US for example. Unless they all agree on finishing ISIS, this war is far from over
    – NSNoob
    Jul 22, 2016 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


It's important to remember that each nation and indeed group has its own objectives, and often they are conflicting. What's happening isn't the world versus the Islamic State, it's a patchwork quilt of different colours of resistance.

This is a very informative chart produced late 2014. In it we see that even those nations contributing military forces are generally just flying bombing runs, or sending soldiers to train up locals like the Kurds.

The invasion of Iraq has made the west reluctant to start another ground war. You can't hold or secure areas without ground forces; the one thing the western alliance is unwilling to contribute (at best special forces). America and Britain do not want to have to send soldiers in, never mind western nations more reluctant to get involved in middle eastern wars, like France, Germany, Italy.

What complicates this more is that ISIL has spread between Syria and Iraq. This means that victory in one country would not be sufficient, and just as happened in Afghanistan after the invasion of Iraq; there would be a surge after the invaders had left.

Syria and the west are hostile to one another, the west is angry with Syria for human rights abuses, and Syria is angry with the west for the US training Syrian rebels. The Assad regime has historically been friends with Russia. And Russia has been sending forces there to prop up the Syrians in order to keep their influence in the region (they have a naval base in Syria). So if America sent soldiers into Syria they might very well end up fighting Russians and start a major war. The Russians have said as much, even going as far as saying Arab armies must not go into Syria or it'd risk a world war.

So the risks for the western powers are very high, and the rewards very low. The western public likes the idea of destroying ISIL, but they are unwilling to accept what is necessary to achieve victory.

Then you have the context of the Middle East at large, which is even more toxic and complicated. Turkey hates Syria and the Kurds, and so wants to see them both defeated by ISIL; whom their Islamist government perhaps has sympathies with. So even though Turkey could wipe ISIL out single handily, they won't. If they went into Syria the Syrians would freak out and there might be a Syrian-Turkish war. Saudi is also keen to see anyone related to Iran punished; which means they are not that bothered with ISIL; because ISIL threatens Shias in Iraq, Syria (Iran's ally), and Iran's Revolutionary Guards sent to help the Syrian regime.

Syria is even more of a mess, and the government is fighting various rebel factions. Syria and Russia are only concerned with fighting Syrian rebels, in part because ISIL fights with them too. It doesn't make sense to attack the enemy of their enemy until their enemy is dead.

Also worth pointing out is that the Islamic State is infused with thousands of Saddam's elite soldiers. After Saddam was executed his Baathist loyalists had no one they could turn to. They feared for their lives given Shia death squads seeking revenge for abuses suffered under Saddam. And so they turned to the only other Sunnis around, the jihadis; and the unholy alliance of the insurgency became a marriage.

In summary, those capable of deploying the forces to defeat ISIL outright either don't want to (Turkey and Russia), their people don't want them to (the West), they have been threatened not to (Arab nations), or they are struggling to mobilise their forces (Iraq). Others who could contribute don't want to push for total victory over Islamic State because they don't feel the need to secure land outside of their territory (Kurds), or just want to stay out of whole mess and probably "wish both sides the greatest success" (Israel). This means that a relatively small ISIL force is able to do a lot, because of the world's inability to cooperate. Nonetheless, ISIL has been losing ground. So it's not all bad.

  • 1
    By the way, France is not reluctant to get involved in "far away" wars (far from it). Recent exemple : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Mali_conflict
    – Tryss
    Jul 23, 2016 at 18:15
  • 1
    @Tryss I stand corrected, I should have rephrased that they aren't keen to get stuck into the middle east, will edit!
    – user8398
    Jul 23, 2016 at 20:50

They dont want to eradicate Daesh.

To know what objectives each group has against Daesh, we should know ideology of these terrorists. he ideology ISIS follows, stems from Wahhabism, which was established in Saudi Arabia and rules Saudi Arabia, right now. They are takfiri. They consider another people of the world as infidel! and say they would (must!) be killed (Similar to former US President Bush who said you're either with us, or against us)!! Till now we know that all people all around the world are their enemy. But, priority of fighting is determinative difference of Daesh with Al-Qaeda. Daesh says priority of fighting is with close enemy. So although they consider all people as enemy, but they fight mainly with Muslims, specially with Shia.

Now approach of each group towards Daesh:

Saudi Arabia: HAHAHAHAHA...

Turkey: Benefits: They can buy cheap oil from daesh. daesh is fighting with Turkey's rival, Iran. + daesh is fighting with Erdogan's enemy, Assad. Harms: These mad dogs (daesh) are out of control. Strategy: support warily

US and EU: Benefits: Daesh is fighting with their enemies, Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad. + Peoples with radical thoughts can go middle east and killed there. get rid of them! + Existance of Daesh is the best stroke on Islam. So some who consider Islam as enemy can use it for Islamophobia. Harms: These mad dogs are out of control. Strategy: Protect them Half-alive, If they are Weakened support them with arms, money,.. (below the radar). If they grow stronger Bomb them (apparantly).

Russia: Benefits:Peoples with radical thoughts from Chechnya and other neighborhoods go there and killed. Russia may gains political points (and popularity) from Iran and Syria fighting Daesh. Harms: Daesh is fighting with Russia's (temporary) allies. + These mad dogs are out of control. Strategy: Fight them much more stronger than US an EU but dont eradicate them.

Kurd: Benefits: Inconstancy in the region is a help for those who want independence. Harms: Daesh consider them as both infidel and close enemy.
Strategy: What we see is fighting, and this is main strategy, (Kurdish people follow this Strategy). But below radar, I dont know. (Some officials like Barezani is suspicious here as turkish newspaper Aydınlık once claim {I have not link now}.)

Shia (Iran, Hezbollah, ...)+Sunnis that Daesh consider them as infidel Benefits: 0 . Harms: 100 (Daesh consider them as both infidel and close enemy). Strategy: Eradicate if you can. if not, fight them as stronger as you can. this is a fight for your life.

Assad: Kill Them All!

After all, it is hard to fight with Daesh because they have not specific base and they use Medieval ways (Human shields,...)

  • There is a benefit for Shias in the conflict. Iran is center of Shias. Iraq was taken over by Shias after removal of Saddam. Now for the first time in 1400 years of Islamic history, there is a chain of Shia ruled/dominated countries which is Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon. If Sunnis break the chain at Syrian link, the Iranian policy of attaining regional supremacy fails. Which is why Iran and Hezbollah are supporting Assad because if Syria goes to Sunnis, Lebanon would be isolated.
    – NSNoob
    Jul 22, 2016 at 8:52
  • Also Russia has another incentive there. Which country hosts the sole Russian Naval base in Middle East? Syria! Putin is unwilling to lose that last bastion of Russian influence in middle east. By defending it, he is getting opportunities of expanding it in Iraq and Iran.
    – NSNoob
    Jul 22, 2016 at 12:01
  • Yes, agree with most of what you say. There is a chain that iran want to protect, but it is not shia chain, it is resistance chain against Israel. e.g. Hamas is a sunni group, but iran fully support it , with missile. BTW since i concentrate on Daesh not Syria, i refused to add these points and some others.
    – user 1
    Jul 22, 2016 at 14:25
  • 1
    I think add a harm for EU, burden of refugee crisis. And for US, benefit of increased arms sales to the neighborhood. Jul 26, 2016 at 10:13

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