ISIL is thus now surrounded by enemies. These include Westerners who know that they are the ultimate target of these millenarian fanatics; Shiites and other religious minorities who understand that the immediate future for them in any ISIL-controlled area is genocide or slavery; and the existing Sunni Arab powers and religious establishments that understand that ISIL is also a massive existential threat to them.
More even than Mosul, Fallujah is the key to the pushback. Should ISIL lose control of that city, as it simply has to, its foothold in Iraq will be profoundly disrupted, and a pushback into Syria guaranteed. The real battle will probably begin in Mosul, but the end of ISIL in Iraq will come with the liberation of Fallujah. Then will come the far more challenging prospect of expelling ISIL from Syria, or at least neutralising its threat there.
Finally, ISIL’s Arab poll numbers are simply dreadful. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy commissioned a recent poll in several Arab states. ISIL got a mere five per cent approval rating in Saudi Arabia – a most heartening repudiation. Egypt followed with three per cent and Lebanon with one per cent. Such marginal numbers tend to correlate with those fringe types believing in the most absurd conspiracy theories.