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The terrorist ‘rebel’ forces of Syria, who – even if combined – number less than 25,000 men, have fought the million-man army of the Syrian State to a bloody stalemate. Despite the thousands of tanks, APCs, missiles, chemical warheads, fighter-bomber jets, and trained soldiers at Assad’s command, he has failed to prevent massive swathes of his nation falling into the hands of a rugged, relatively disorganised opposition.

In Iraq, another terror group, ISIS, has held its ground against the US, Saudi and Jordanian air forces, the Iraqi army, and various Kurdish paramilitaries.

And finally, in Ukraine, the pro-Russian separatist militias of the Donetsk People’s Republic have held off the armed forces of NATO-backed Western Ukraine whose ranks, even accounting for Russian counter-measures, dwarf the resources and technologies of the opposing side.

What does this tell us about our world?

For me, it raises the vitally important question as to whether the power of terror groups are evolving to a state of parity with national armies. It certainly seems that way, looking at the evidence.

Much of the improvement in guerrilla warfare over the past ten years is due to the development of one particular weapon – the mobile anti-tank missile. Once so large, they had to be hauled about on wheels, modern variants of these weapons are so small they can be carried like a rucksack.

It is a well-grounded fact that anti-tank missiles are cheaper to produce and more efficient in operation than the vehicles they destroy. If they are effectively designed and accurately deployed, 1000 anti-tank missiles can theoretically go against 1000 tanks and triumph.

The Israelis don’t need to be told this. Their brief and unsuccessful war against Lebanon in 2006 is judged in retrospect to be a Hezbollah military victory (a military victory, I emphasise, not an abstract ‘ideological’ or ‘moral’ victory – a military victory by Hezbollah over the Israeli army).  How did the Lebanese movement achieve this? In the main, it was via anti-tank missiles, the latest, most upgraded type used by the Russian military. Hezbollah is rumoured to possess many thousands more.

To understand this requires counter-intuitive reasoning. We naturally assume that a huge, hulking Israeli tank is more likely to triumph over a single Shia terrorist, however well he is armed. But that’s not what happened on many occasions.

It is suspected that the Syrian state has passed more varieties of Russian equipment on to Hezbollah since the beginning of the Syrian implosion. This fact, along with the ghost of the 2006 war, goes some way to explain why Israel has not displayed enthusiasm for a rematch.

By way of conclusion, there is no reason, no reason at all, why a terror group cannot triumph over a modern nation state, and we are seeing them do so in many parts of the world today. That these groups are often only 10 or 20 thousand man strong, should give us all cause for concern, especially at a time when Muslims flow into Europe by the million.

D, LDN.

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