What the com­men­ta­tors said

The Week Middle East - - News -

The West­ern me­dia is por­tray­ing the ad­vance on Mo­sul is if it were “as well-planned as the D-Day land­ings”, said Pa­trick Cock­burn in The In­de­pen­dent. In fact, the at­tack­ing forces – the Iraqi army, the Kurds, the Shia mili­tias and “a 5,000-strong Sunni mili­tia” trained by Tur­key – “sus­pect and fear each other al­most as much as they hate Daesh”. The suc­cess­ful an­tiDaesh cam­paign of the past two years has been heav­ily de­pen­dent on US ae­rial fire­power. Daesh, mean­while, has of­ten cho­sen to fall back rather than fight pitched bat­tles. Things will be dif­fer­ent in Mo­sul, said Bill Pow­ell in Newsweek. Daesh de­sert­ers say that it has con­structed an “in­tri­cate net­work of tun­nels with rooms, toi­lets, med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and enough food to sus­tain a long fight”. They say that some 3,000 mil­i­tants will fight to the death, hid­ing among Mo­sul’s civil­ians, and even us­ing chlo­rine and mus­tard gas left over from Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime. “There is no ques­tion that the Daesh will be de­feated in Mo­sul,” said David Pe­traeus in The Wash­ing­ton Post. The ri­val forces are too strong to fail. “The real ques­tion is what comes af­ter­wards.” Mo­sul, and Nin­eveh prov­ince, are home to a com­plex net­work of “eth­nic groups, re­li­gious groups, tribes and other ele­ments” – Sunni, Shia, Chris­tian, Shabak, Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Turk­men. This makes gov­ern­ing it a unique chal­lenge, par­tic­u­larly when the Iraqi au­thor­i­ties are, to put it mildly, not al­ways com­mit­ted to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. In 2014, Daesh de­clared its caliphate in Mo­sul, said Ja­son Burke in The Guardian. Op­ti­mists be­lieve its de­feat there will “fa­tally un­der­mine the group’s ap­peal” to Mus­lims and to po­ten­tial re­cruits. Ter­ri­to­rial losses will “mean no tax, oil or other rev­enue streams” from Iraq, and “no space” for train­ing, rest­ing or pre­par­ing ef­fec­tive pro­pa­ganda. Pes­simists, how­ever, point out that Daesh sur­vived be­tween 2007 and 2014 while con­trol­ling very lit­tle ter­ri­tory – and went on to “con­duct the sin­gle most ef­fec­tive Is­lamic ex­trem­ist mil­i­tary cam­paign seen any­where in the world for decades”.

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