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Islamic State: Why West’s plan may not work

Defeating Islamic State (IS) could be extremely difficult despite the new impetus from international coalition forces to attack its territory in Syria, regional experts are warning.

The U.K. launched its first air strikes on IS territory in the troubled Middle Eastern country on Wednesday night, within hours of a parliamentary vote backing the move. Yet with divisions within the anti-IS forces, particularly between Russia and Turkey, it may be difficult to win a lasting peace.


"There is a lack of a feasible coalition and feasible strategy for defeating IS," Torbjorn Soltvedt, head of Middle East and North Africa at Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC.

"At the moment, it's very easy for IS to say that anyone is against the Sunnis in the region. This is an issue that can be used in its propaganda and has to be tackled."


The coalition of countries led by the U.S., which includes France, Germany and Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia, has had a series of higher-profile air strikes in the weeks since the terrorist attacks in Paris which left 130 dead. Yet there are concerns that it may need to commit to more extensive and longer involvement, as the conflict in Syria has already dragged on for four years and shows little sign of being resolved.


A mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which left 14 people shot dead and another 17 wounded on Wednesday night, raised alarm bells as a potential domestic terror incident, with the local police chief not ruling out terrorism as a motive.

Demonstrators listen to speakers at a rally against taking military action against Islamic State in Syria, held outside Downing Street in London, November 28, 2015.
Getty Images
Demonstrators listen to speakers at a rally against taking military action against Islamic State in Syria, held outside Downing Street in London, November 28, 2015.

"There has been this two-tier threat – lone wolf attacks and, more recently with the attacks in Paris, Beirut and Egypt, greater co-ordination and elevated risk," Soltvedt said.

"As long as IS is resilient, it will pose a threat," he warned.


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