To prove its ascendance of a political fait accompli, the Islamic State (IS) is attempting to demonstrate its ability to control the areas it has thus far occupied. To this end, the group is organizing on the ground to give the impression that no one should count on its being defeated or on eliminating it, with or without airstrikes.

It is not by chance that IS orders that its slogan, “The Islamic State will remain,” be recited by its victims before they are killed, as recognition that it is an undeniable and unbeatable reality. The group is well aware that occupying land is not the same as having control over it, so it needs to assert its authority and power over the territory it has seized to make them IS strongholds.

At the same time, the group is beefing up security measures in these areas in response to recent moves by the Iraqi government and the army. The government in Baghdad has been encouraging Sunni tribes in IS-dominated areas to rise up and fight the group, as happened in 2007, when US Gen. David Petraeus persuaded the Sunnis in Anbar province to confront al-Qaeda. At the same time, the army has had some success in western Iraq, such as retaking Jurf al-Sakhar from IS fighters in late October.[…]