As Mosul battle ends, struggle over Iraq’s future intensifies
After nearly nine months of intense fighting, the campaign to retake Mosul from the Islamic state ends in the ruins of the historic city center, but the struggle for Iraq’s future is far from over.
In addition to Mosul, on the border with Syria, a battle continued to dislodge IS-Raqqa, the second capital of the self-report caliphate. The fights push the Euphrates valley to Deir al-Zour, the last great urban bastion of jihadists.
But the fall of Mosul also expresses ethnic and sectarian fractures that have plagued Iraq for more than a decade.
The victory could trigger more violence between Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories or between Sunnis and Shiites in the pretensions of power, caused by external powers that shaped Iraq’s future since the US-led invasion in 2003, overthrew the government of The Sunni minority of Saddam Hussein and brought it to the Iran-backed Shi’ite majority for energy.
For Iraq, surprised by Mosul’s bombing of the Islamic State in 2014 and the collapse of its army, victory could become as big a problem as defeat.
The federal model developed as part of the Anglo-American occupation and based on a power-sharing agreement between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds collapsed in the ethnic-sectarian carnage caused by Al Qaeda’s precursors to the Islamic state.
In the three years since jihadists swept the Syrian border where they had met in the chaos of the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, SE was the meeting point for a fractured Iraq.
But now that the group faces military defeat, the unity that united Iraq began to separate.
PLAN NOT AFTER THE BATTLE
One challenge is the future of Mosul itself, a city traumatized by the brutal regime of the Islamic state and broken by the latest offensive supported by the United States, with thousands dead and almost one million displaced.
Western, Iraqi and Kurdish officials say they are surprised that Iraqi authorities have been unable to prepare a post-battle plan for government and security.
A high-level committee formed by the Kurdish region, the Baghdad government and a US-led military coalition to help Muslim leaders rebuild the city have never been known, they said.
“Prime Minister (Haider) al-Abadi continued to drag his heels Every time we raised this issue with him, he said.” Let’s hope the military operations are over, “said Hoshyar Zebari, a former internationally respected finance minister and foreign minister.
“An entire city is decimated. Look at how the government contributes, as if it did not matter.”
The first indication of a possible future conflict came when Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq, announced a referendum on 25 September by an independent state.
Another push was a push by Iran-backed Shiite militias grouped under the Hashid Shaabi government to deploy along Kurdish areas and advance to the Syrian border, motivated by Iran’s desire to join Iraq and Syria and a Runner in Tehran in Beirut.
“Today, the path of resistance begins in Tehran and reached Mosul, Damascus and Beirut,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, the best adviser to the supreme leader of Iran.
All this in a context of rivalry between the regional powers of Iran and Turkey, and especially the declining influence of the United States and the vigorous attempts by Iran to consolidate its control in Iraq.
While the administration of US President Donald Trump considers Syria and Iraq only with respect to the military campaign to destroy the SI, local jihadist fighters simply mingle with the population and could regroup into a new insurgency.
Sunni and Kurdish leaders in and around Mosul largely agree with this forecast, alarmed qu’Abadi refused to discuss the future government of Mosul to suspect that Iran is in charge.