Monday, October 17, 2016

Crediting the Iraqi Military

Barzani said the joint Iraqi force are launching the offensive from south and east of Mosul [Reuters]

"[The offensive to be led by Kurdish Peshmerga] Then they will stop. We'll [Iraqi military] start after them and move after them to support them."
"The operation [to retake Mosul] will take much longer because of this [the large presence of well over a million Iraqi civilians]."
"For their safety, but it also means each neighbourhood needs to be surrounded and searched as we clear it."
Brig.Gen. Haider Obaidi, Iraqi special forces commander

"We do provide our intelligence capability, we provide our logistics, these are capabilities that the coalition has that are singularly distinctive. We are very capable in these areas, and it is a big help to the Iraqis as they move into position," he said. 
"The plan is for the Iraqis to liberate Mosul, They are going to be the ones that will move in to the city."
Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman, U.S. forces

"Today is a turning point in the war against terrorism. This is the first time that Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army have cooperated and fought in the same area,"
"We are hopeful that this operation will be successful and that Mosul will be liberated. But this does not mean that the terrorist threat is over."
Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani

Barzani said the joint Iraqi force are launching the offensive from south and east of Mosul [Reuters]
Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said the joint Iraqi force are launching the offensive from south and east of Mosul [Reuters]
Restoring the honour of a demoralized military, which, though trained and equipped by the U.S., turned and ran the very instant they became aware that Islamic State fighters were marching to enter Mosul and take the city from the command and protection of the Iraqi military. Rather than face the enemy whose ruthless reputation for slaughter and shedding blood in the most medieval-engaged atrocities, Iraqi forces, from commanders to enlisted men, chose to turn tail and decamp in such a panic that they left all their advanced military gear in their barracks, gifting Islamic State with up-to-date technically advanced arms and vehicles.

The staging for the retaking of Mosul has been in the planning stages for well over a year. Islamic State has been in possession of the city of over two million Iraqis -- of mostly Sunni Muslims, bordering on Kurdistan by Islamic State, considering it their Iraqi capital just as Raqqa is considered the Syrian capital of the caliphate -- for over two years. It is starkly obvious that the Iraqi military would be incapable of mounting an offensive for the return of Mosul on its own. Without the air- and fire-power of the U.S.-led coalition, and significantly, of the Peshmerga, Mosul would remain in ISIL possession.

The estimated 30,000 assembled forces of Peshmerga, Iraqi troops, Shiite militias representing tribal warlords, target an ISIL opposition of an estimated three to four thousand fighters. This unequal contest on a battlefield might readily be seen to be heavily in favour of the larger contingent of adversaries. But in a city the size of Mosul with its huge remaining population of over a million residents, with all the buildings and houses, the underground tunnel system, the IED-rigged buildings and back-alleys, the complications are diverse and numerous. With ISIL well ensconced and familiar with their surroundings, using explosives-laden vehicles in suicide attacks, their threat is ominous.

They will exact a steep price for the privilege of retaking Mosul from their grasp. In their wisdom, the United States persuaded the Peshmerga and Iranian backed Shiite militias to remain on the perimeter of Mosul, enabling the Iraqi army's counter-terrorism special force, Iraqi federal police and local tribal fighters to initiate and conduct house-to-house fighting in Mosul. The purpose, to ensure that sectarian violence is kept to a minimum once the battle for Mosul has succeeded and ISIL ousted.

Considering that Mosul's population is mostly Sunni, with a smattering of ethnics such as Arameans and Armenians, and the Islamic State occupation was likely comprised of no more than several thousand administrator/fighters, the city of two million might conceivably have put together a core group of opponents to oust ISIL. But for the majority Sunni Iraqis in Mosul there is no love lost for the Iraqi government comprised mostly of Shiites in an unequal sharing of national trusts. Many of the dismissed former Saddam Hussein military commanders came from Tikrit and Mosul.
And the core group of leaders of Islamic State were represented by many of these former Saddam-loyalist Sunni Iraqis. It stands to reason there was sympathy in Mosul for the Islamic State and its defense of Sunni Iraqis. With the incursion of Shiite militias and the Iraqi military comprised largely of Iraqi Shiites there will be an eventual reckoning meted out to the Sunni population of Mosul. Many of whom will be vacating Mosul as expeditiously as possible, leaving the UN to settle them in refugee camps for their own protection.

The resumption of Iraqi government control of Mosul will be months in the making while ISIL fighters are being routed from the city. The need to ensure that the terrorists do not infiltrate the tens of thousands of fleeing Sunni civilians will most certainly be a time-consuming and fraught affair. And when the city is finally freed from the talons of ISIL, other situations will erupt; that Kurdistan claims Mosul for its own, and that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that Mosul remain a Sunni enclave, under the protection of Turkey, not Iraq. Even while local warlords and Shiite militias argue violently that Mosul is their heritage.

"This is the first time the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces have worked together against Daesh [ISIS] … we hope this will become a concrete foundation for our future relations with Baghdad."
"The liberation of Mosul is not an end to terror and terrorism but this was a good lesson so in the future we will resolve our differences through understanding and working together. We reassure the people of Mosul that both the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army will do everything not to cause any loss to the people and no revenge killing will take place."

Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani
Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani

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