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In an interview with Jonathan Swan for "Axios on HBO," Iraqi President Barham Salih said that while the military defeat of ISIS is an important moment, it is still incomplete and could "easily unravel."

  • The interview was prior to news of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Experts remain concerned about an ISIS resurgence even without the group’s leader.

The big picture: President Trump said in December 2018 that the U.S. defeated ISIS and reclaimed 100% of the group's territory in Syria. The comment drew pushback from officials who argued that defeating the group is much more complex than a military takedown. Ground reports noted continued unrest and that ISIS still had control in areas throughout the region.

  • Trump's recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria has left the region in disarray, with hundreds of thousands of Kurds being displaced as Turkish forces invade the region. The strain has also led to the escape of some ISIS prisoners and is provoking the Iraq-Syria border, which still has some ISIS presence.

What they're saying:

"We have had serious conversations about — about this with senior American officials, and I've said that the military defeat of ISIS is an important victory but incomplete and precarious too as well. It can easily unravel. And this is what I'm worried about. Five years of blood, treasure, effort, a lot of human misery went into defeating ISIS. This victory was no easy. And for anyone to become complacent about it is terrible, reckless, dangerous, tragic,"
— Salih to "Axios on HBO"

Go deeper: Where U.S. troops and military assets are deployed in the Middle East

Go deeper

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.