25 October 2016
In the past few months, the Islamic State (IS) has suffered significant territorial losses in Iraq and Syria. Most recently, the Turkish forces retook the Syrian town of Dabiq from the IS. Similarly, in Iraq after retaking the Sunni-majority Anbar province from the IS in July, the Iraqi forces have launched the much-touted operation in Mosul. Currently, Mosul is the last stronghold of the IS in Iraq; and Aleppo and Raqqa in Syria.
In the context of the Mosul operation, three important questions beg answers. First, will the loss of territory in Mosul and similar territorial setbacks in Syria defeat the IS? Second, what military strategy will the anti-IS coalition – comprising the Iraqi military and police, Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), the US advisers and the Kurdish Peshmergas – adopt against the IS – counter-terrorism (CT) or counter-insurgency (COIN)? Third, if the IS implodes, has the international community deliberated and worked out a strategy to deal with the aftermath of such a development?
The fall of Mosul to the anti-IS coalition which outnumbers the 4,000-5,000 IS fighters by 35,000-40,000 is a foregone conclusion. However, the manner in which Mosul is taken and treated post-operation is as important as retaking it from the IS in the first place.
… The writer is an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 25/10/2016