Beyond Mosul

(Rubin Center-IDC Herzliya) Jonathan Spyer - The reduction of the area of Islamic State control is already an advanced process. The jihadis have lost 50% of their holdings in Iraq, and around 25% in Syria. Yet the almost certain defeat of IS will ultimately constitute only an episode in the wider story of conflict in Iraq. The anti-IS forces arranged around the IS stronghold of Mosul are a deeply varied gathering. They include the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Kurdish Pesh Merga, the Shia militias of the PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces), the Sunni militiamen of the Hashd al-Watani (National Mobilization) and even the Kurdish PKK. Even now, before the victory, the various forces in the "coalition" assembled to destroy IS are already looking toward the political, and perhaps also the military struggles which will follow Mosul's conquest. The Kurdish Pesh Merga on the ridges above the city are thinking about independence; the Sunni militiamen under their tutelage also see little future for themselves in a united Iraq; the Shia militiamen are serving the cause of the larger, Iran-led regional alliance of which they are a part. The PKK are seeking to advance their own, rival Kurdish nationalist project. The writer is Director of the Rubin Center, IDC Herzliya, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

2016-09-30 00:00:00

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