With the launch of operations to liberate the west side of the city of Mosul, which was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday last February 19 , the countdown has begun for the Liberation of the right coast . Optimists believe that the coming days will witness the final elimination of al Daesh in Iraq.
There are two contrasting visions noting that the restoration of the right side of Mosul , which consists of 94 neighborhoods will not be an easy process, but will face more complex obstacles than the left side , including:
1. The geographical nature that shapes this side of city, which is characterized by the convergence of houses and narrow streets and lanes, being old and poor and densely populated noting that the narrow of streets limits the vehicles movement and the armored troops, and the high population density limit the ability to use heavy weapons and aerial and artillery bombardment because it will cause a significant loss of civilians.
And the bad weather and low visibility due to fog and the fall of rains will lead to the suspension of military operations, and because the weakness of air support and an inability to sustain the momentum of the attack, which gives an opportunity for the units Alangmasah of state regulation -which are fighting professionally in the war gangs – that seeks to change the field equation on the ground.
2. The destruction of bridges connecting both sides of the city by the international airline alliance was a double-edged sword; it was the cause of progress and control on the left side to cut off military supplies and logistics for the organization.
And now watery inhibitor constitutes a major obstacle in front the advancement of troops to cross into the second bank due to the speed of the river flow, and unsuitability of the banks of the bridging due to the rise in many regions, in addition to weakness of troops during crossing so that they can be targeted by Artillery shelling and mortars and snipping, I think the dilemma to keep the target will be more difficult than grab it.
3. the absence of a prior plan for the development of shelter camps will leave thousands of civilians out in the cold, because of the destruction of bridges and their inability to move toward the left side, where it is expected the exodus of very large numbers as soon as the battles are intensified and the organization lose its control on civilians.
And these s forces will find itself before option to the fight the war of streets of high cost; where fighters of the organization are good for this kind of fighting, which is characterized by neutralizing some of factors of the strength of the attacking forces , such as the intensive aerial bombardment and long-range artillery fire , and bombs with the destructive force that the strategic long-range bombers are dropping them. In order to understand the moving factors in the course of the battle and its consequences, the analysis will address the importance of the west side of the city of Mosul to the two parties of the battle, and the obstacles to be resolved for any of them.
In addition that the liberation of the western side of Mosul is not linked to the military factor, but also linked to political complexities that have not been resolved yet, as the western Mosul is linked to Tal Afar besieged by the popular crowd forces without attacking it because local and regional reservations, noting that the popular crowed backed by the Iranian regime is seeking to deepen its role in the Mosul operation and incursions in the geographic areas occupies a prominent place for it that Afar for the crowd is more important than the restoration of the city of Mosul itself as it represents for the Iranian regime of demographic and strategic significance, and from this point , the battle may be a gateway to the regional conflict between both Iran and Turkey. Based on pretext of trapping Daesh and prevent their escape to Syria, the popular crowed seeks to expand in Tal Afar to secure land line toward Syria first, and secondly the presence of Shi’ite population there. Analyses indicate that the Iranian regime was able during the last period of the secure areas of influence controlled by the militia, the popular crowd, as is happening in Diyala, which is controlled by the Badr militia, as well as in Samarra and other strategic areas while Iran seeks incursion in Tal Afar within the same target.
For its part, Turkey hints at military intervention in the event of incursion of the popular crowd of Tal Afar, citing of presence of a Turkmen majority of Sunnis and Shiites there. this argument raises Turkish concerns that announced about a possible outbreak of a broad sectarian conflict caused by the participation of the popular crowd at the Battle of Mosul and its repercussions will be reflected on Turkey’s security as a result, which could split the region into two axes , Sunni representing by the Turkmen population, who went to seek protection from Turkey and Shiite representatives of the Shiite population and militia crowd PDF stands behind Iran, so the city of Tal Afar bears a strategic risk that could push Turkey for military intervention, as happened in Syria through the shield of the Euphrates and the outbreak of a sectarian conflict between Iran and Turkey.
The same problem faces the predominantly Yazidi Sinjar city, controlled by «PKK», amid of Turkish reservations and forces «Peshmerga» that belong to «Democratic Party of Kurdistan», led by President of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, who is under great pressure from Ankara in order to get rid of «Kurdistan» as well as the Kurdish internal pressure demanding the annexation of the city to the region. Between Tehran and Ankara, a new element entered to the Iraqi Kurdish equation, is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which became a partner in the duo in Sinjar and in other regions of the province.
The second vision:
There are those who disagree with this analysis and believe that the battle of the western side of Mosul will not be difficult for the Iraqi army, citing the nature of the neighborhoods of the western side. Because most districts of this side of the alleys and narrow lanes and crowded city, so the Daesh will not be able to use conventional weapons, especially mined vehicles, which would make him to lose the most important weapon of deterrence possessed. Observers believe that the Iraqi army has gained good experience during the war in the eastern part of Mosul and other Iraqi cities that were under the control of Daesh and learn his style of fighting inside cities and streets, which favors the Army especially as it has a more sophisticated weapons than owned by Daesh as well the air cover that will come from the international coalition and the Iraqi air Force. The question in this context what is the importance of the Battle of Mosul for the Iraqi government and Daesh?
The importance of the western side is the existence of the most important government institutions, such as City Hall and the municipality and presidency of Nineveh court and government complex and the Directorate of the provincial police and other institutions, including Sukar plant and Camp of Ghazlani , Airport of Mosul and others ; also likely the presence of the headquarters of the leadership of Daesh and centers of its control and the headquarters of the establishment of its leaders and their families since the control of the city which is the last urban stronghold in Iraq. The restoration of the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second city in terms of population density, of paramount importance to the Iraqi government in the way of restoring sovereignty over the entire territory of Iraq and recover the prestige of the state and the armed forces, in addition to their importance in the arrangement of situations in the post-battle stage to avoid Iraq’s slide to a local conflict between the components that the city of Mosul is making up of an ethnically and religiously diverse that potentially to explode against the backdrop of conflicts for power and resources between the components of Iraqi society. Estimates indicate that between 600 to 750 thousand people living in the west side of the city of Mosul; the presence of these populations fear that the fight to bring about widespread destruction of residential neighborhoods and the occurrence of civilian casualties in large numbers.
As for the importance of the western side of the Battle of Mosul for Daesh , in the June 29, 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “declared the Islamic caliphate,” in one of the largest mosques in the city of Mosul; Seizing an opportunity of feelings of the majority of population of Sunni Arabs who are resentful for Iraqi exclusive government policies, to present himself as a protector against its violations and violations of sectarian militias. The production of cereals constitute one-third of the total production of Iraq, and its areas includes a number of oil fields, which provide for the organization of a major source of financial revenue; in addition to the fact the land routes linking Iraq to Turkey to the north and Syria to the west, and the importance of this road for the territorial contiguity with the Al-Raqqa of the Syrian city, the supposed capital of the organization. After losing the eastern side of the city of Mosul, the west side has become for Daesh the last remaining city under his control; and in this side, the command and control centers and booby-trapping vehicles sites and military industry workshops of weapons and equipment are located, in addition to the presence of the families of the leaders and fighters of the organization.
Eventually the Iraqi forces and the international coalition will be able to liberate the Mosul from the grip of Daesh early this year. However, due to the successes of the organization «Daesh» and his predecessors in the registration of exciting returns to the city in 2004, 2007 and 2014, it is justified to wonder what will deter the organization or any similar group for hiding and advancement again and blow up the precious gains achieved by the current war. The people of Mosul experience with «Daesh» was already bitter, and the visitors to the left part of the city can touch the level of enthusiasm of the population to defeat the «the organization», despite the heavy prices they paid. This talk does not seek to say that «Daesh» is a foreign body from the formula here, but to say that there is really a traumatic experience the city experienced in the past three years, an experience that does not look like all the tragic experiences in Iraq in the past two decades, and this is what the population agree collectively on it.
The question in this context: What is the lesson we can draw from history?
Establish stability in Mosul: lessons learned between 2008 and 2014
Although the political agreements on the “public view” for the future of the Mosul may be decisive in the end, the highest priority remains for the international-Iraqi alliance which is to ensure the security of Mosul in very practical ways.
We can learn a lot about the next critical steps in Mosul If we look at the different periods of the history of modern Mosul.
• Partial success when the United States paid great importance. Between 2007 and 2011, “the Iraqi security forces backed by US achieved great successes, resulting in a reduction of security incidents in the city from the level which is very high reached 666 incidents per month in the first quarter of 2008 to an average of 32 incidents in the first quarter of 2011.
• Catastrophic failure when the United States turned its back. Between 2011 and 2014, the curve was reflected, that the pace of monthly security incidents increased to average of 297 in first quarter of 2014. After short period, the organization «Islamic state» took possession on the Mosul and one third of Iraq in June 2014.
Engines of the establishing successful instability, 2007 – 2011
The successes achieved between 2007 and 2011 and the failures recorded between 2011 and 2014 can be easily explained. During the first period, Baghdad was keen to ensure the stability of Mosul that Iraqi Prime Minister (Nuri al-Maliki at the time), focused on the subject, he allowed the moderate solutions, such as partial amnesty and reopen recruitment for security [services] of officers of the former regime. The elections resulted in the formation of the provincial council and the Governor [understands], and led to enable Mosul’s population of Sunni Arabs in the urban areas of identification with him.
When the US Army entrenched in Mosul until 2011, “Iraqi security forces” managed to create a key “unity of command”, and major leadership positions have been a awarded to the decent officers including Mosul’s population of Sunni Arabs, and partly due to the insistence of the United States In this regard. And it has increased the number of available government forces in Mosul, including through local recruitment of large numbers of the population in Sunni Arab neighborhoods that are poorer than others in Mosul.
The reasons for the failure of the attempt to establish stability, 2011-2014
During the period between 2011 and 2014, in contrast from previous years,the a triumph of organization «Islamic state» is guaranteed because of the lack of unity of effort and a lack of unity of command chronically among the Iraqi government and Kurdish factions and the factions of Nineveh. All of Nineveh province’s leaders have worked backed by the Kurds and Baghdad to achieve the conflicting goals throughout the period of three years.
Indeed, the climate of “military command ” resulted which were appointed politically by leaders of Baghdad that [the] security forces carried out operations designed to humiliate and punish the inhabitants of Mosul, who are from the majority Sunni Arab. Since the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki began his second term in 2010, Baghdad has decided to tamper with the affairs of command and control in Mosul, that the security structure has been dismantled who are not politicized to a reasonable extent that existed up to that point. The constant change of leaders has led to the destruction of remaining cohesion within “the Iraqi security forces.”
Given the strategic opportunity posed by the liberalization of Mosul in the future – an opportunity may not be repeated – is to absorb these lessons and make use of them is very important. And assuming no flow of Kurdish “Peshmerga” forces or Shiite militias to the city, a result that seems the coalition prevented to be achieved, it may be of Mosul’s residents initially more open to cooperation with the “Iraqi security forces” Ever since 2003, after two and a half from submitting to the rule of Daesh. But Mosul’s residents will watch their liberators closely for any signs that the return to the 2014 scenario when punitive measures were prevailed and strict curfew orders were issued and the specter of arrests were spread on a large scale.
On the political level, there must be a genuine and realistic consensus on the power in Nineveh, not just a changing series of alliances based on the principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This process is still in its early stages, but the coalition led by US scored a good start in this regard through a combination between Baghdad and the Kurds, as well as the leadership of Nineveh province to conduct a public debate. The agreement between the parties must be based on the simple basic rules of the futur political behavior. In such an arrangement, the provincial council and any security coordination committee should to be actors to make decisions on the basis of consensus.
Similarly, the recruitment process and management of the affairs of local government bodies and the police should be in accordance with a specific formula, to reflect the composition of the residents of the city pre-regulation Daesh. The recruitment of local people from the cities to the police forces, including belonging to minorities, represents a priority. At the level of operations, requirements include appointments a stable and non-politicized leadership and provide unity and coordinate much more power between the Iraqi federal security and local and Kurdish forces in Nineveh. So the United States should think of taking five steps to counter Iranian influence in Iraq and prevent the return of al Daesh:.
1. The continuation of international coalition’s commitment to (support) Baghdad by ensuring helping it in the following areas: preservation of Iraq’s border security (especially with Syria), and to deal with the escalating terrorism, which is almost certain to appear at defeating al «Islamic state» as a paramilitary traditional power, creating a base for a multinational security project which will continue after the war on the organization «Islamic state. » The so maintaining the “Joint Task Force – » the inherent solution process as « ” an international alliance of large – scale rather than allowing of falling to just as a US mission with some of the small partners. In addition, Washington should agree on a new package of “training and equipping s ‘Fund of Iraq 2” (ITEF II) standing three years for Iraqi security forces to cover the years 2017 to 2020 to replace the “train and equip s Fund of Iraq (ITEF), which covers the years 2014 to 2017.
2. Reconsider the approach , “of Joint Task Force” to help the security forces, and build on the successes of training in the past year in order to create more effective Iraqi force to counter – insurgency Instead of trying to create a mini Western military force , the United States and its allies have to take into account the new options to be aware of local cultural realities, so as to avoid the incentive structures that generate corruption and prevent Iraqi forces from preparing for combat operations and to achieve stability as appropriate. In addition to strengthening the partnership in Iraqi politics, these measures will form the best way to prevent the return of al «Islamic state» and the growth of Iranian influence through «units of the popular crowd».
3. Help Baghdad to resist the pressures to institutionalize «units of the popular crowd» pro-Iran as a large military force and parallel, and well – funded and able to compete with the Iraqi security forces. The best way to achieve this in the victory at the Battle of Mosul without relying heavily on «units of the popular crowd», and then maintain a strong and effective international efforts to assist the security forces. It is also important to pay attention to the large number of officers in “counterterrorism” of the high ranks of the Iraqi army. The United States will not have partners in the long run that are more important than those officers trained at its hand, so it is necessary to listen to them and protect them from intimidation of militias and support them in their careers.
4. To deter Iran by referring quietly that the United States will not tolerate for any attacks by Iranian agents on its soldiers in Iraq. This includes clarifying that such incidents would have negative consequences for Iran’s advisers in the region, as well as naval vessels for «Islamic Revolutionary Guard» if it mislead the US ships in the Gulf. To enhance the credibility of these warnings, Washington should continue to deter the activities of Iran partners destabilizing the stability in other places in the region, such as the Huthi forces that seek to obstruct the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Bab el Mandeb.
5. Preparing for a campaign of media and influence documenting the Iranian defective activities in Iraq, including unfair trade practices, and undue influence in politics, and care of the violence against Iraqis. And such a campaign may provide strengths against Iran, especially if the use of information as a warning bullet and dissemination through the media that do not normally tend to Washington. Iran has never enjoyed great popularity in Iraq, even among the Shiites (though the battle against al «Islamic state» have reduced this resentment). Therefore, the Iraqis may be interested to know the true price of the Iranian military support and income from gas and electricity, and how the coercion and violence constitute the hidden true face of the Shiite religious tourism of Iran’s majority, and how that food revenues from Iran are exempt from customs duties that have a negative effect on the Iraqi farmers. Finally, the defeat of the organization «Islamic state» in Iraq may reduce the domestic support for the the Iranian presence in Syria, which creates favorable conditions for the campaign ‘s influence in Iran and shed light on these costs and the complexity of political Tehran ‘s ability to exert its power in the region. The question in this context Can Donald Trump Management to the demolition of houses built by the Iranian regime in Iraq and correct the error of US policy in Iraq after 2003 ?
Observers of the Iraqi affairs would agree that the battle to liberate Mosul will be a turning point for the future stage, Iraqis are in front of the two choices only two , either to select new leaders to save the country from the complet collapse that reached by the policies of extremism, sectarian and racial and rampant corruption and failure since 2003, or stay on the same ruling mentality that will pull the country inevitably towards further deterioration and division, crises and wars which are endless in the struggle over areas and interest and to serve projects of other countries , which brought to us scenarios of sectarian strife and «Al-Qaeda» and «Daesh» and others of what is hidden by those who are planning policies in the area.
In conclusion after «Daesh» Iraq awaits the merits of Arab-Kurdish relationship , Sunni and Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish, Shiite and Kurdish, not to mention the inter-relationships within each composite of these compounds, all of which are prone to explosion. So no one is optimistic post-war in Mosul, although the victory looms.
The unity of the Iraqi Studies
Translated by: Mudhaffar al-Kusairi
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies