Accounting for Islamic State’s Appeal and Resilience
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Despite having a vast number of forces arrayed against it—the US coalition, Putin’s Moscow, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, Kurdish Peshmerga, and the regimes in Baghdad and Damascus—IS is growing stronger. Reasons for the resilience displayed on the part of the jihadis include encouraging polarization between groups and then benefiting from this process and its diverse funding sources—from oil sales to the trafficking of antiquities and narcotics—have allowed it to build a war chest in excess of US $2 billion. With these funds, IS has deployed soft power—digging sewage systems, providing stipends to families, to earn the loyalty of its “citizens.” IS has also displayed superior military strategy, combining conventional military doctrine with asymmetric warfare.