The end of the Islamic State (IS) is near. If not dead, its Caliph would soon become a homeless tyrant armed with a radical ideology that threatened doomsday, but in the end brought about its own downfall.
Countdown to the end of the state – though, not the terror organisation-started with two contemporaneous events during the past few hours. One, Syrian rebels made a lightening advance to their north, driving straight up Homs, to capture Dabiq, a village crucial for the terror outfit's propaganda. And two, Iraqi army and Kurdish militia began their battle to liberate Mosul from Daesh fighters.
While the fight for Mosul may go on for a few days, the fall of Dabiq has shattered many myths linked to the Daesh (IS) propaganda and their Islamist prophesies.
Soon after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his fighters established their rule in large swathes of Iraq and Syria, Daesh announced that the capture of Dabiq, a village west of the self-proclaimed caliphate's capital al-Raqqa, was the beginning of a fight between Islamists and forces of Rome (read West).
Daesh claimed that it is predicted in the Hadith that a crucial battle would be fought at Dabiq between the Caliphate, helped by Jesus Christ, and armies of Rome led by the anti-Christ Dajjal that would culminate in complete destruction of the world. Only a few loyal soldiers of the so-called caliphate would survive to establish the reign of Islam.
But, on Sunday, when Syrian rebels blitzed their way to Dabiq under the cover of heavy shelling and strafing by Turkish forces, Daesh fighters fled the village, leaving behind deserted streets and huge caches of arms and ammunition.
“The Daesh myth of their great battle in Dabiq is finished,” Ahmed Osman, the head of the group that captured the village, told Reuters after the successful operation.
The propaganda around Dabiq and the end-of-days battle had helped Daesh recruit thousands of fighters from across the world dreaming of a life in a world where only Islam and sharia would survive. Drawn by the myth, hundreds of families had left their homes in Europe to await the day when Christ and the self-proclaimed caliphate would destroy Rome and Dajjal.
Now that the Dabiq is gone, Daesh would be left red-faced and humiliated, unable to justify its own existence as an army of the Allah. This would hopefully drill some sense into the head of radicalised Muslims who were drawn towards its false propaganda and visions of Armageddon.
Two years ago, when Daesh had captured major portions of Iraq and Syria, it had announced its intention to expand and grow in the entire Middle-east. But over the past one year, its fighters have been forced to flee more than 50 percent of the captured territory.
This year alone, as The Guardian pointed out, the caliphate has instead lost the historic city of Palmyra and the town of Manbij, north of Aleppo, as well as much of its holdings in northern Syria. In Iraq, it lost its stronghold of Falluja in the summer along with much of Anbar province.
The final blow to Daesh could come in a few days as a coalition led by the Iraqi army advances on Mosul. Once the largest Iraqi city under al-Baghdadi falls, it would hasten the process of Daesh turning into an ideology in exile and its believers having no land under their feet.
The battle for Mosul, which has been planned for months by Iraqis and Kurdish pesh merga, began on Sunday night. According to the strategy worked out by the coalition and US forces assisting them from behind battle lines, Daesh would be squeezed from two directions in Mosul. While the pesh merga would close in from the east, Iraqi army would advance from the other side to ensure Daesh doesn't get an easy exit.
According to the The New York Times, around 4000 Kurdish pesh merga and 30,000 Iraqi soldiers are participating in the attack. They would be helped by US warplanes over the Mosul skies. The operation is expected to take several weeks since Daesh would not give up its prized-possession easily. But, the liberators are optimistic about their chances and hope to liberate Mosul by the end of winter.
Once it retreats from Mosul, Daesh would get confined to pockets of Syria and territory on the margins of Iraq. The only major city left under its control would be Raqqa. The way the battle against Daesh is going, Raqqa may fall sometime in 2017, ending the self-proclaimed caliphate.
While the caliphate would cease to exist, the challenge, of course, would be to contain its ideology. Several reports indicate the terror group has branched out across the world. According to NBC news, it has fully functional branches in 18 countries; in six more countries – Egypt, Indonesia, Mali, the Philippines, Somalia and Bangladesh – it is taking roots.
It is quite possible that Daesh, like al-Qaeda, will disintegrate into different branches after the fall of Dabiq and Mosul. But the days of the self-proclaimed caliphate, its model sharia kingdom, myths and dreams of a war to end all "kaafirs" is near.
The IS, as we know it, is about to die.