Se lo chiedono un po' tutti e se lo sono chiesto anche gli analisti dell'Institute for the Study of War, in questi anni una delle fonti principali sulla conflittualità medio-orientale, in particolare dell'area siro-iraqena.
L'ISW, assieme all'American Enterprise Institute, ha condotto una ricerca i cui risultati (per certi versi un po' scontati, a mio avviso) sono stati pubblicati in tre report (qui, qui e qui). In breve,il team di ricercatori ritiene necessario un intervento militare americano ed europeo che abbia l'obiettivo di distruggere le basi siriane ed iraqene dell'ISIS e di Al Qaeda. Intervento, però, che va attentamente calibrato sulle differenti realtà dei due gruppi jihadisti i quali hanno strutture, obiettivi, punti di forza e di debolezza differenti. Il "centro di gravità" di clausewitziana memoria dell'ISIS, ad esempio è costituito dal controllo del territorio in quanto, scrivono gli analisti americani, "it provides religious legitimacy, military capacity, the ability to impose governance, and a globally resonant message". In particolare, l'espletamento di funzioni di governo dei territori occupati, il mantenimento del consenso in tali territori, la gestione dei contrasti tra leadership centrale e leadership locali ed il controllo della componente combattente costituiscono le vulnerabilità che un'efficiente azione di contrasto dovrebbe mirare a colpire.
Elementi, questi, differenti da quelli che caratterizzano Jabhat al Nusra il cui "centro di gravità" è, invece, costituito dal suo legame con l'opposizione siriana, sia a livello locale che provinciale.
Scrivono gli esperti dell'Institute for the Study of War e dell'AEI:
ISIS and al Qaeda are military organizations with distinct sources of strength and ways of operating. These distinctions inform the requirements to destroy each organization in Iraq and Syria. Each has unique capabilities that the U.S. must counter or neutralize and vulnerabilities that the U.S. can exploit. Commonalities between these organizations meanwhile produce additional options for the U.S. to achieve asymmetric effects. Both have access to shared resources readily available in Syria and require that Syria’s Sunni population tolerate their presence. Both also pursue expansion into neighboring states by fostering disorder and radicalization amongst Sunni populations. Well-crafted courses of action will navigate these complexities to chart a course to achieve American national security interests rather than simplifying the problem set to engender a linear approach.
ISIS derives its strength and legitimacy from the territorial Caliphate under its control. This territory provides resources for ISIS and actualizes the religious vision of the Salafijihadi movement. Possession of a physical caliphate allows ISIS to invoke religious obligations to defend it that appeal strongly to Salafis and other radical Muslim groups. The resonance of this call offers ISIS potential leadership of the global Salafi-jihadi movement and gives ISIS military campaigns in Syria and Iraq momentum. The brutal methods by which ISIS controls the populations it governs, however, require ISIS to dedicate significant resources to maintain its rule. The need to retain territory to serve as the reification of the Caliphate also makes ISIS much more vulnerable to attack by conventional forces. This tension between the costs and advantages of maintaining its territorial control shapes how ISIS behaves as an organization.
Jabhat al Nusra derives its strength from its intertwinement with Syrian groups that represent much of Syria’s majority Sunni population. Jabhat al Nusra is part of a network of armed opposition groups, civil society elements, relief organizations, and civilian populations that rely on it for support.
Its acceptance by non-Salafi opposition groups gives it greater legitimacy in the eyes of ordinary Syrian Sunni. It leverages those relationships to create formal structures to serve as the foundation of a future Islamic Emirate for al Qaeda in Syria. It also conducts religious outreach to transform the ideology of Syrian civilian populations. Its sustained military contributions to the war against the Assad regime ensure its continued acceptance by many Syrian Sunni in the near term even when disputes arise about how local governance should operate. Jabhat al Nusra’s prosecution of mutually reinforcing religious and military campaigns in Syria makes it an unusually dangerous and adaptive threat. […]
Concludono gli analisti:
Attacking the center of gravity of ISIS is superficially more straightforward than dismantling Jabhat al Nusra’s intertwinement with the Syrian opposition. The U.S. and the West have many military capabilities for expelling hybrid forces from terrain they control. Setting conditions to ensure that such forces will be unable to return to areas from which they have been driven out is a more complex task, but still one that is familiar from recent conflicts.
Jabhat al Nusra’s strategy requires the U.S. to develop careful phasing. The difficulty of designing a campaign to disentangle Jabhat al Nusra from the opposition in contrast to the relative ease of constructing a campaign to deprive ISIS of the terrain it holds might tempt the U.S. to focus first on ISIS and then turn to Jabhat al Nusra. Such a phasing construct would be a fatal mistake. Jabhat al Nusra is poised to benefit from the defeat of ISIS while consolidating its position among rebel groups. Allowing Jabhat al Nusra to deepen its support within Syrian communities while focusing on ISIS risks turning the fight against an extremist group intertwined with opposition structures into a conflict with a significant population actively supporting Jabhat al Nusra. A successful U.S. strategy must therefore operate against both enemies simultaneously in order to ensure that it does not merely install Jabhat al Nusra as the successor to ISIS. […]