The borders of the Islamic State‘s “caliphate” are shrinking fast. The group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria are collapsing one by one. The U.S.-led war has reached a point where questions are being raised about what comes next.
So far, the answer seems likely to be: more war.
That’s partly because the U.S. strategy for defeating the Islamic State relies on a variety of regional allies and local armed groups who are often bitterly at odds. Though all of them regard the Islamic State as an enemy, most of them regard one another as enemies, too. As they conquer territory from the militants, they are staking out claims to the captured lands in ways that risk bringing them into conflict with others who are also seizing territory. New wars are brewing, for control of the post-Islamic State order.
Here is a list of 10 of them, in no particular order. There are doubtless more. Some have already started. Others may never happen. But any one of them could increase the Islamic State’s chances of survival, perpetuating the conditions that enabled the group to thrive — and perhaps entangling the United States in the region for many years to come.