The Economist tries to get it right. The center of Ramadi is indeed under ISIS control.
That's “ISIS” as an acronym for Islamic State Is Shxt.
What matters most in Iraq goes to three things:
— The Sunnis in Syria and in Iraq are now terrified of the ISIS fighters. This is a reversal of the situation on the ground a year ago. Rejection of their Wahhabi/Salafi message is running close to 100%
— Every Sunni tribe in Anbar Province now opposes ISIS publicly. After taking hundreds of murders from ISIS fighters all over the province, the earlier welcome the tribes put out has been replaced by what amounts to passive resistance.
— Mosul is surrounded. The section between Sinjar and the Baiji/Tikrit area on the western side of Mosul needs to be beefed up. Reinforcements were sent up out of Baiji on Tuesday. Even with light protection there, ISIS has made no effort to break out from Mosul. (Refer: the Battle of Stalingrad during WW II for a parallel decision.)
Syria is not that different:
— The Sunnis in Syria have also been taking murders from ISIS. They are extorted for young men and for money. Their vehicles are confiscated. Their banks are robbed. Rape and torture are reported widely.
Palmyra had been surrounded by Nusrah and ISIS forces since 2012. They went in and took over the town administration so today its a news item. Before this they came in and shopped for food. The file pics of the antiquities there — now in the hands of barbarians — make a compelling story.
The Economist does try to tell the story broadly, but they are limited by their sources: the United States Department of Defense and the front org, Institute for the Study of War.
Here is the map The Economist copied over from DoD/ISW:
Mosul is pretty much surrounded.
What you see with coalition and ISF sources is somewhat different. The big story is that Mosul is now surrounded pending completion of the Sinjar-to-Tikrit/Baiji linkage.
The big area east and north of Baghdad was cleared out in 2014. That ISIS force was an army of substantial size. Altogether 5,000 fighters. Half of the army that invaded and took Mosul in June, 2014. They lost 700 at Amerli and over a 1,000 if you include the dam fights. The rest of them spread out and were defeated in groups of 100 here, 300 there.
ISIS expected the locals to help out; that failed. Tactically, they never learned to respond to artillery.
ISIS raiders/psychopaths have now killed easily ten times as many Sunnis as Yazidi/Shi'ia/Christians combined. You would have a hard time finding one Sunni tribal leader who backs ISIS.
Not so good for Perpetual War. Surround-and-annihilate does just what it says. (Also makes for effective graffiti.)
Text from The Economist article reflects disparities between the last year's actions and what U.S. DoD puts out. Below the fold for examples. You can see the Ad Biz mentality at work rolling out Perpetual War propaganda.