Though the American media often portrays ISIS as an unstoppable, terrifying juggernaut, the truth is that the group is in real trouble, and is actually losing ground in its core Iraqi and Syrian holdings. A new leaked internal document suggests the pressure may be even worse than we thought. According to the document, ISIS is being forced to slash salaries for its fighters by half across its holdings.
The document appears to be authentic. "[I] definitely think this is real," Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told me. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group watching the conflict, has heard from its own sources that ISIS is slashing salaries.
So at this point you are probably asking, "How did that happen?"
Funny you should ask.
Most of ISIS's money comes from extortion: essentially taking money from its citizens at gunpoint. But there's only so much wealth for the group to steal in the territory it controls without economic growth, and ISIS has no plan for putting together a real economy. Its oil infrastructure, which used to be quite valuable, has been heavily bombed by the US-led coalition.
"Their cash had already been drying up," Gartenstein-Ross explains. "The coalition bombing their trucks bringing oil to market further depletes their revenue by adding a premium to doing business with ISIS. Plus, taxing a population that has very little source of income isn't a sustainable revenue model."
So in short: ISIS has lost 25 percent of its territory since mid-2014. Its cash resources are running low. It has no friends in the region and lots of powerful enemies.
Okay so I kind of understand the strategic reasons for not yelling this from the rooftops and giving Daesh the opportunity to recognize what is happening and taking steps to circumvent these strategies.
However when I hear these Republican candidates bitching about the President having no plan to deal with the terrorists, or when they call him "weak" or "ineffective," I just want Obama to walk up to a microphone somewhere and shut their asses down.
As far as I'm concerned when it comes to the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls there is not one among them qualified to wipe our President's ass much less take over his job.