Soleimani is dead, Iraq is in chaos and ISIS is very happy

US military personnel on Monday surveying the damage to a building at Al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, that was struck by Iranian missiles last week. With the heightened tensions, US troops in the country have switched their focus to defending Americ
US military personnel on Monday surveying the damage to a building at Al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, that was struck by Iranian missiles last week. With the heightened tensions, US troops in the country have switched their focus to defending Americans in Iraq, rather than fighting ISIS or training Iraqi forces to do so.PHOTO: NYTIMES

In 2016, Mr Donald Trump, then a candidate for United States president, described Mr Barack Obama as the "founder of ISIS". In the end, it may be Mr Trump who comes to be known not as the terrorist group's founder, but as its saviour.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been weakened considerably since its peak in 2015, when it controlled a territory the size of Britain, but the Trump administration's targeted killing of Major-General Qassem Soleimani may have poised the group for a comeback. Just as the misguided American invasion of Iraq in 2003 revitalised Al-Qaeda, some 17 years later, a return to chaos in the same country may yet do the same for ISIS.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'Soleimani is dead, Iraq is in chaos and ISIS is very happy'. Subscribe