As always, Jonathan Spyer has captured the essence of what is going on in the Levant, and applied it to the regional context.
He notes that the recent international terrorist attacks by Islamic State are directly attributable to the group losing land. He writes that even when the caliphate is defeated, it won’t go away.
More importantly, Spyer notes that salafi-jihadi groups like jubhat a-nusra are religiously/politically identical to Islamic State – they want the same end result. But some of these groups are massively funded by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and control large amounts of Syria. In short, we shouldn’t expect peace to reign once the Raqqa falls.
The one difference I have with Spyer is that I tend to include all Sunni Islamist groups in the same category – a continuum from nominally peaceful Islamist groups likes the Muslim Brotherhood and hezb u-tahrir, right through to Islsmic State. I look at these groups’ ultimate objective, not whether or not they are currently holding weapons. Spyer makes a more technical distinction between salafi groups and political Islamic groups.