By GARY ALLEY
With the soon coming defeat of ISIS in the city of Mosul, Iraq will be rid of the last major stranglehold of the Islamic extremist group in their country. ISIS, though, still breathes in the shadows of Iraq, as witnessed by the recent targeting of an ice cream shop in Baghdad that killed dozens. Also, ISIS's damage done to Iraq’s Christian community will not be reversed in the short term as many of those families have sought asylum in the West.
ISIS in Syria is also facing major losses over the last months as America has strengthened Kurdish forces who have gone toe-to-toe with ISIS over the last four years. Kurdish forces are now within four kilometers of Raqqa, ISIS’s capital in Syria. Yet, Turkey, the Kurds’ longtime enemy and America’s ally, has entered the melee in Syria and is attacking the Kurds instead of ISIS.
President Recep Erdogan, who recently consolidated his power over the Turkish nation after last summer’s coup attempt, has targeted any followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he has accused of the July 15th coup attempt that left nearly 270 dead. So far, the United States has not acquiesced to Turkey’s demands for Gulen’s extradition. Turkish officials have responded with brutish efforts to force capitulation.
Since Oct. 7th, Turkey has imprisoned and ridiculously charged American Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, a 23 year resident of the country, with membership in the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization. Many see Brunson and his trumped-up charge as a bargaining chip for Turkey’s aim to extradite Gulen from the United States. During Erdogan’s recent visit with U.S. President Trump in Washington DC, Turkish Secret Service brutally attacked Kurdish protestorsoutside of the Turkish embassy with little resistance from the local police. Trump also brought up Brunson's release to Erdogan during that May 16th visit.
Islamic extremist attacks continue to rise in Egypt against the Egyptian army and Coptic Christians. ISIS seeks a foothold within Egypt through its porous borders and corrupt government. Coptic churches have been bombed and church groups massacred. Families are beheaded and outposts are insecure. In response to this climate of instability in Egypt, Israel has increased its vigilance against ISIS attacks on its southern border.