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The Defeat and Survival of the Islamic State

MIN READDec 7, 2017 | 08:00 GMT

Iraqi fighters enter the city of Qaim on Nov. 3 near a wall bearing an image of the Islamic State flag.

Iraqi fighters enter the city of Qaim on Nov. 3 near a wall bearing an image of the Islamic State flag. The Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, but it is far from becoming merely a virtual organization.

(AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Several people have asked me lately whether I thought the Islamic State will become a "virtual caliphate" now that it has lost most of the terrain it once held, including the strategic cities of Mosul and Raqqa. At the same time, I've talked with people who claim that the Islamic State has been destroyed. Both viewpoints have some truth to them, but neither is the whole truth. Both miss where the Islamic State is really headed....

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