ISIS has finally been expelled but Syria remains divided
The Syrian Civil War has been a messy affair since it began in 2011. Unlike the traditional two-sided war, what has been happening in Syria was always a mess of factions.
It was a war where even an enemy of your enemy was still your enemy. This was perhaps best evidenced by the revelation in 2016 that different American-backed militias were fighting each other. Many of those militias turned out to be terrorist organizations.
Some American weapons made its way through the supply chain into the hands of ISIS itself, as everyone was pumping arms into the country in the hopes that whoever came out on top would be a friend.
The liberation of Baghouz represents the last of ISIS-controlled territory, over which the terrorist group has ruled with an iron fist. They enforced strict religious law, complete with fashion police and the mass burning of alcohol and cigarettes.
Just over 8 years later, there are no signs of an end to the Syrian Civil War, but it enters a new chapter without the push against the borders of ISIS.
ISIS is different from other similar terrorist groups in that controlling territory is a much bigger part of its aims. It still holds some parts of Libya, and famously captured the filipino city of Marawi for five months. An ISIS-affiliated group has also controlled remote parts of Nigeria.
Thismap of the current state of control in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq shows that the countries still have battles ahead of them, even without ISIS.
The pink area is government-controlled Syria.
The burgundy area is controlled by the Iraqi government.
The orange area is controlled by the Lebanese government.
The Syrian opposition forces has been reduced to the light green area in the southeast of Syria.
The darker green areas in the north are under Turkish or Turkish-backed control.
The yellow areas show Kurdish control in norther Iraq and Syria.
The white areas show Al-Qaeda control.
The blue areas are controlled by Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Only time will tell how the complex issues involved in the region are untangled. It will be especially interesting to see what happens to the Kurdish-controlled areas. Many commentators mused whether a Kurdish state would emerge from the wars in Iraq and Syria, a prediction whose future is unclear in the face of continuing US withdrawal from the conflict.