Oct 20, 2017

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen
1 big thing: The next fight against ISIS

In November 2001, the Taliban abandoned Kabul without a fight. But in reality, the Taliban and their al Qaeda brethren had dispersed, not been killed or crushed. Sixteen years later, they represent a grave threat to the U.S.-backed order in Kabul.

  • Why it matters: Some Trump administration officials are crowing over the capture of Raqqa, the official capital of ISIS, and the surrender of hundreds of its fighters. But given the escape of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi along with many other fighters, there is a nagging question whether celebration is premature. The group may merely be scattered.

Do not underestimate the victory: ISIS rose to be at once the most brutal and successful terror group in history, earning billions of dollars in oil sales, extortion and taxes, and governing a swath of Syria and Iraq the size of Belgium.

  • But, but, but ... It may appear that ISIS is in retreat mode, but it's probably just transitioning "from a quasi-state actor … back down to an insurgency," says Nick Heras of the Center for a New American Security.

Go deeper: Read Steve LeVine and Shannon Vavra's full story on the evolving fight against ISIS.

2. What you missed
  1. Kelly vs. Wilson: WH chief of staff told incorrect story about the Florida congresswoman. What happened.
  2. Paul Ryan's worry: The "dangerous" trend of "identity politics." What he said.
  3. A bitcoin bet: Cryptocurrency service company CoinList is spinning out from AngelList. The details.
  4. Trend reversal: Uninsured rates are back on the rise. The numbers.
  5. McCain's memoir: The senator will be releasing a new book in April. Read a preview.
  6. Facebook's mood: Employees claim recent criticism is unfair. What they're saying.
  7. Trump's legacy: Most Americans think he won't be remembered kindly. The poll.
3. One fashionable thing

First Lady Melania Trump today donated her inaugural ball gown to the First Ladies Collection at the National Museum of American History, Axios' Haley Britzky reports. The floor-length gown was designed by Herve Pierre in only 2 weeks.

Mike Allen