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Policy Brief

The Low Likelihood of ISIS Resurgence in Iraq

31 May 2024
Policy Brief by Kamaran Palani

ISIS was militarily defeated and lost territorial control in Iraq over six years ago. Since then, the group has struggled to mobilise support and restore its influence. This Policy Brief examines the contextual shifts in Iraq since 2017 that have hindered ISIS’s ability to radicalise and recruit, addressing the critical question: why is a resurgence of ISIS in Iraq unlikely? Drawing on field observations and previous research, this Policy Brief carefully argues that the decreasing prevalence of sectarian grievances, particularly among Iraqi youth, diminishes the potential for community support for ISIS and other forms of violent extremism compared to the post-2003 period. To substantiate this argument, the Brief analyses the decline of sectarian demands that once contributed to the emergence of violent extremist groups in Iraq. It also revisits the primary drivers of radicalisation in the pre-2014 period that facilitated ISIS’s rise and explores how post- Caliphate developments, including demographic changes, have altered people’s needs and concerns, diverging from the narratives ISIS previously used to attract recruits.