- in Strategy Research


At the dawn of the seventeenth of  October last year, Haider Abadi , Iraq ‘s prime minister announced the start of military operations for the liberation of Mosul from the grip of the organization Daesh, with the participation of the international coalition forces and during the course of battle   the coalition forces and the Iraqi army have made  field gains in the war of  restoration of the city of Mosul from al Daesh. Hence , the battle of Mosul derives  its major importance  as  being one of a central gravity for al Daesh in both Syria and Iraq   from which al – Baghdadi announced the birth of the “state,” and it occupies a  unique strategic position  that it is the link  among Turkey, Syria and Iraq , including the Kurdistan region, as it lies on the  new Hareer  Road new that the Iranian regime is seeking for decades to reach  through it to  the Mediterranean Sea, so  all parties affected by the outcome of the battle of Mosul seek  to participate in it  to secure their interests. As well as the distinguished  location enjoyed by this city, in addition to the enormous  geographical area  and  the important number of  its  population compared to the rest of the other Iraqi cities. Al- Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq. The war in urban areas is not an easy task , as shown  by recent operations for the Liberation of Ramadi  , which is inhabited by 200 thousand inhabitants and Fallujah , inhabited by 275 thousand inhabitants, while the number of Mosul ‘s population estimated at 1.8 million ( a lot of them left the city in search of a safe heaven ) .

Followers  of Iraqi affairs of political analysts and military experts  say that the military operation would be the easy part, and that the hardest challenge  after the military campaign is to Mosul management in the post-Daesh, the larger challenge for them is how to administrate Mosul  after Daesh in order to  set up  a permanent  political defeat   to the  organization Daesh  and to prevent his return to the city. The battle of Mosul is an  adventure that  may make it difficult to escape  from its  consequences, if a long-term plan has not been  put to answer questions such as: How should  to deal with the city after Daesh to ensure long-term stability  for the city? And how  can avoid falling back into the hands of a militant organization like Daesh or others or become an area controlled by the princes of the sectarian war? This makes it necessary to prepare a political framework for after the battle and the pursuit of political reforms as a starting point for the path of overall stability.

In the context of these fundamental questions  for the future of the city of Mosul in particular and Iraq in general , it seemed that the   new administration of US Donald Trump has an   idea crystallized  in the war on «Daesh», not limited to the deployment of helicopters and artillery in Mosul and strengthen the presence of the special forces, but rather constitutes an American –Gulf front to  contribute to the war on «Daesh», provided that the areas liberated from «Daesh» must not be occupied by the Iranian regime or affiliated militias, this is the headline resulted    of  the document of  Moscow and visiting of  US Secretary of defense James Matisse to  the Gulf and Iraq. This means that there is  US ,Russia,  Turkey Gulf agreement to end the Iranian expansion in Arab capitals, and we must be very clear in the  message that if the world wants a cooperation to eliminate the organization Daesh. For any Gulf contribution or Arab in the war on «Daesh», whether in Iraq or in Syria,  the Iranian regime should be outside those areas, and that this message be more clear to the Iraqi government, where Matisse said that the United States will remain supportive of Iraq even after liberation from «Daesh»,  and for this purpose  , James Matisse  visited Iraq in last February to stress the importance of military cooperation  between governments of US and Iraq in the war against extremist groups .this cooperation already exists, as the reports  indicate that American advisers are helping the Iraqi forces  in the battle  to restore Mosul from “Daesh” . it is expected  that Matisse  strategy to be  expanded in  the scope  of this cooperation , despite that the matter is not clear whether if this means  to send  more US forces  to Iraq but in spite of   the importance of and the need  for increased US support for the Iraqi government  in its war  against Daesh, this is not enough . it is worth noting that Matisse strategy to provide  something more effective than  what  has been done by US in the era  of the  Obama administration ,  it  needs  to go  beyond  military matters and should be based on long term thinking   .

Based on field progress, the Followers of Iraqi affairs of political analysts and military experts  believe that the administration of US President Donald Trump, which raised the size of its participation in the battle because it is final and important for the development of post-Daesh in Iraq arrangements, should encourage Baghdad to prepare the political framework for Mosul after the battle from now and  on. This  encourage should includes the following steps:

* Pressure on Baghdad to set up a permanent political settlement belonging to Mosul and the surrounding of province of Nineveh.

* Provide humanitarian assistance and empowering the Iraqi efforts to prevent the transformation of the refugee camps to the Daashah bases .

*  to establish  a Long-term political framework that gives a hope and bet to the  anxious Sunnis in Iraq  across  their participation  in a broad-based government of national unity .

Local residents of the Sunni Arabs need  an acceptable alternative vision, to be credible with the status quo before their stated support of the Iraqi army. Many of the supporters Daesh  are not ideologues but most of them are  local residents or  leaders or  tribal realists that are looking for representation in power for themselves and their communities. The policy of the previous Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pushed them to join the organizing Daesh as their  support to  Daesh was better for them to remain under the rule of al-Maliki, which has caused great concern  within the Sunni street.

In order to  establish  the required Iraq’s stability, that the United States should adopt the efforts to achieve stability in post-conflict and reconstruction, with the participation of the coalition parties and work with the Iraqi Government to resolve differences on decentralization issues, and the mechanism of governance, security, and sovereignty over the territory. But before that there are other stages that must be followed to get to the reconstruction phase, so that the continued military and economic support depends on the establishment of a coherent military force of sectarian pluralism, and it can be done through the development of the National Guard  system, allowing engagement of Sunni forces, and delegitimize  of any  unlicensed Group or independent militia. Based on the fact that Iraq will depend on the flow of American arms to fight Daesh, it should take advantage of this fact for demanding political reforms as a springboard on the way to overall stability, and promote efforts of the engagement  and integrate Sunnis into the political system of Iraq and   forming a counterweight and against the Iranian influence in Iraq.

Although the liberation of the Iraqi lands from the grip of “Daesh” seems

Successful militarily , but this obscures the existence  of some problems  in the long run  in Iraq , and    that must be addressed  in order to prevent  “Daesh”  or   groups similar to it from  appearing   a gain  in the future  due to  the ongoing  grievance  . Some of these problems  includes  the question  of who will govern  the liberated areas after” Daesh”  especially  that of the Sunni  community  in Iraq  is facing  internal  divisions . Shiite   community has come  together  in Iraq  as well as  in the war against “Daesh” but there is no agreement yet about  the political scene  after the defeat  of the organization , as the political leaders are continuing  to dominate  the   society  with their competitive agenda  . Iran  insists  to  support  Nuri al-Malki , whose supporters believe that the war against “Daesh”  is an opportunity  to regain  power , whether  in   official or unofficial  way , while his political rivals of the Shiite community also competing  among themselves . The Kurdish  community is also experiencing  similar  political  conflicts  between the different parties and leaders . Thus the sectarian  divisions  are not  alone  to spoil the social and political  scene  in Iraq despite the fact  that the war  on Daesh  managed  to unite the many sects, religions  and different races  but there are  also political clashes inside one community  and  one race . Any effective strategy against “Daesh”  must address the political dimension of the future.

If the political leaders of the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds failed to reach a political settlement on  the future of Mosul and the future of other Sunni areas. If we assume that the Iraqi government will not be able to represent the  Sunnis  in Mosul legally  so the organization of the Daesh in its current form or in other  similar form  will appear again. In the meantime, the organization will try to organize a rebellion to  exacerbate  the sectarian tensions and deepen the crisis of confidence and the problem of Sunni representation between the Sunni provinces and the central government in Baghdad, thereby sowing the seeds of rebellion again.

The question is whether the political leaders who rule the country able to overcome the current differences and take advantage of the Iraqi national figures to create a policy of rule  based on national standards that will ensure representation and independence  for the Sunnis  . Thus, such a project will ensure  the disposal of Daesh in the country. As in the case of lack of access to political stability, things will be more difficult after the end of the battle as it will escalate the competition to fill the  vaccume in Mosul. But the fact that Baghdad is weak and is not able to resolve this issue will dissipate the  anticipated victory, the result expected by the organization Daesh.

Muammar Faisal Kholi

Translated by : Mudhaffar al-Kusairi

Rawabet Research and Strategic Studies Center

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