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As 2017 closes, so does the physical "caliphate" of a pseudo-religious criminal enterprise known by the name Daesh (ISIS).Keeping it dead will be a generational struggle.Rooted in Al-Qaeda in Iraq and supplemented by pro-Saddam Hussein Iraqi Baathists, Daesh seized the Syrian city of Raqqa from Syrian rebels in 2013 and, from there, invaded Iraq in 2014 .Daesh is a vacuum-filler.When Bashar Assad's regime in Syria responded to peaceful protests with lethal force, it created multiple political vacuums and opened Syria to penetration by Al-Qaeda. In Syria, the most spectacularly evil of the vacuum-fillers – Daesh – entered from Iraq and imposed itself. Putin and Khamenei have, until very recently, treated Daesh in Syria as an afterthought, focusing their firepower on anti-Assad rebels and supporting a live-and-let-live relationship between their client and the caliphate.In Iraq, the United States has had a recognized government and an official army with which to work in trying to defeat Daesh.For both Syria and Iraq, attaining political legitimacy will require generational efforts and sustained external assistance.
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