On March 23, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces claimed victory over a 700m² spit of land in the Syrian town of Baghouz — and, with it, the end of the caliphate of the Islamic State (IS). The announcement marked an ignominious end to a quasi state that, at its most powerful in 2014/2015, would span about 100,000km² in Syria and Iraq, control about 8-million people, and attract as many as 40,000 foreign fighters to the Middle East to join its cause. It would instil fear, be responsible for human rights violations of the most astounding order, and fan the flames of a conflict that would claim upwards of 400,000 lives (all in an area roughly the size of SA’s North West province). But the territorial demise of IS is just that — territorial. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced a worldwide caliphate in mid-2014, the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria, or Isis, rebranded itself as Islamic State, a reflection of its global ambitions. To that end — and in both its rise and decline — it’s been...

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