Over the last 12 months two major terrorist attacks were perpetrated in Paris and Brussels, killing hundreds and wounding many more people. After failing to stop the seemingly unstoppable growth of terrorist groups like ISIS, the international community may have now realized it’s time to act. In Libya, Iraq and Syria, world powers have become increasingly active, mostly using clandestine and intelligence assets, in countering militant groups’ operations and in retaking lost ground. According to the Pentagon, ISIS has lost around 50% of the territory it once held in Iraq and the proportion could amount to up to 20% in Syria.
European officials said the group’s international recruitment rate dramatically fell lately, and growing desertion within militants’ ranks would point out the momentum stalled. However relative optimism shouldn’t blur the whole picture which is that terrorism remains a global threat and that a number of most experienced operatives may have just relocated elsewhere as the situation got more and more difficult in former strongholds. The presence of cells in Libya and Europe was confirmed, and next attacks could be more sophisticated than previous ones, including the use of unconventional weapons.
The Russian military intervention in Syria has likely convinced the international community that acts more decisive had to be done in face of the magnitude of the terrorist threat. It certainly incited the US to do more, at least to not let Russia in control of what’s going on in Syria and Iraq. Beyond the threat posed by terrorists, there are big diplomatic and military interests at stake. Many countries, traditionally close to the US, were impressed by what Russia managed to do. It means potentially greater political and business ties between Russia and these countries in the future.