Iraq after the liberation of Mosul: part 1 - leadership and the Iraqi reality
There is much talk these days about the consequences and the aftermath of liberalization of the city of Mosul and Nineveh province from the criminal entity Daesh and its Salafi Jihad doctrine. It is necessary to analyze the internal Iraqi dynamics carefully and more so from a comprehensive analytical multi-dimensional view. This article will be the first part of three articles about Iraq after the liberation of Mosul. In the second part we will try to analyze the role of the international coalition and its related geopolitical situation of the region and Iraq, and in the third and final article I will try to analyze the future of the Popular Mobilization Unites (Hashid), more so on its ramification on the security of Iraq.
It is also necessary to ask fundamental questions about what is required of Iraq after the liberation of Mosul? Will Iraqis want, a unified or divided country in everything but by name while everything is impose via de facto status? federal Iraq or confederation? or dominate by the center or provinces with a new and broad powers? Below, and on the second and third article, I will try to look for key important factors and attributes, which should help us to understand the impact and expectations following Mosul liberation.
Administration of Iraq after the liberation will be the real test of the strength and wisdom of various Iraqi leaders, especially with the recognition that the State weaken with time and is drained by a lot of its political players and it is moving on to the reality of "Non-State" and thus liberation of Mosul must be the start of recovery for the State of Iraq and its authority and reputation, otherwise we will have an increase in the phenomenon of warlords, especially at the local level and in the Provinces with different names and fronts.
Here comes the question whether the occupation of Daesh to one-third of Iraq's was enough as a warning and as a sever indication to the fragility of the country's political system, governance and its weak social cohesion? Or do we (God forbid) will need another indication that will certainly be worst than Daesh. We must not forget how our communities and the Iraqi state is feeling the repercussions of attrition in our fight against terrorism. As a result of facing multiple crises and its accumulation Central Government is burdened with internal problems and will have only a limited focus on few priorities while trying to minimize the fallout from liberation of Mosul and its risks management accordingly. One example for risk management is the forthcoming constitutional obligations election that Iraqi state has to undertake soon (Provincial in 2017 and the House of Representatives in 2018) in the liberated western areas and the areas where IDP are. Here the State needs to plan and put in motion a clear road map for the management of elections.
There are a lot of players who anticipate and expect a fundamental role for the Grand Ayatollah in Najaf to play in rebuilding this new Iraq after Mosul liberation, Iraq free from Daesh and engaging comprehensively the wide spectrum of ethnicities and religions diversities under the umbrella of citizenship and civil state. Note that this umbrella should also reflect the willingness of Iraqi politicians and their affiliations to have policies which bypass ethno-sectarian and our political quotas system, liberalization of Mosul should be the beginning of a new political banner in which common visions and united leadership all aspire for a new Iraq, noting that having a weak vision or/and united political leadership will mean the prolong ordeal continuing.
The political reality of Iraq:
Iraqi political and diplomatic maneuvers (here I mean the whole state, not the just Foreign Ministry) is not adequate or equivalent to its military campaign in the liberation of Mosul, this might be due to the different internal Iraqi political visions and the weakness of the Iraqi political mechanisms to influence neighboring countries and its international coalition partners. Here there is an urgent need to review and evaluate this mechanisms and its lack of impact on overseas stakeholders while not ignoring the existence of overlap between most of the Iraqi, regional and international parties on the subject of liberalization of Mosul. This situation reflects the depth of the complexity and breadth of the parties involved here, stakeholders sees the battle of liberation of Mosul as a line which breaks between the history that is linked to Daesh and the future which relates to its desires and determination to increase its impact on the future course of Iraq and its regional ramifications. And here comes the question about whether political allies within Iraq have agreed to close the Daesh file and work to create new alliances reflective of the reality of a new Iraqi; aware of the need to have strong strategic, and not tactical, alliances. Especially with the approaching elections, and here we can say that the weakness of having a unified strategic vision means inefficient alliances and fragmented approach.
The battle to liberate Mosul:
Mosul is the largest Sunni Arab majority city in Iraq, furthest from Baghdad, the closest to Irbil, west of the city is inhabited by Arabs and east by Kurdish and other minorities, city center is more urban while in its suburbs areas is inhabited by tribes which be their nature means an increase in the complexity of managing it after liberation. It is an important financial source for Daesh as well as a source for the recruitment of terrorist cadets. It liberation will declare the formal end to the entity of the Islamic State (Daesh), bearing in mind that Daesh has not taken any large scale military offensive in Iraq since the occupation of Ramadi mid last year.
Resolving who will take part in the liberation of Mosul with clarity of roles and responsibilities on the ground is a very important matter and will be subject to Iraqi and regional conflict. Noting that any loss of focus on fighting Daesh after the liberation of Mosul means the continuation of financial and political bleeding of the Iraqi State. On the other hand, the liberalization of Mosul will provide moral support in strengthening the Iraqi army and its recovery; here the government has to maximize marketing and PR for its victory.
Liberating the remaining areas of Iraq from Daesh in its current framework will continue because it is the product of a collective action under the auspices of the Prime Minister with agreement of Iraqi, regional and international partners. This framework means that focus will be on how good are the humanitarian operations in the liberated areas, which will be one of the most important stability factors in the near term, especially with the preparations for the central government in facilitating provisions for IDPs. After the liberation of Mosul it is very necessary to secure water, shelter and food etc. from 3 to 12 months for the displaced. In addition to the importance of speeding training to local police and internal security of the city, which will help in reducing tension in the liberated areas. UN role in supporting Iraq concerning refugees and displaced persons will be pivotal too, aware that gaining local confidence of the people of Mosul will be difficult, but not impossible, and even if they have lost their confidence on Daesh.
I deem it necessary to think a little bit outside the traditional frameworks and propose here the appointment of a military governor for Mosul post liberation as an option that should be considered seriously, there may be legal or political problems and challenges, but they may be less harmful than the planned management by the Nineveh Provincial council.
Daesh and terrorism after the Mosul:
What are the doses of antibiotics required in the Iraqi body so that Daesh and terrorism do not come back? An urgent question which substantially all of us need to search for answers. After the completion of the liberalization of Mosul will the international coalition countries eyes turn towards Syria and its complexities, and here it is necessary on the Iraqi leadership to focus and to make sure that Daesh does not return on the ground under any name, knowing that the liberation of Mosul would be a strong blow against the legitimacy and structural of Daesh but will not be existential because of its geographical proximity to Syria, knowing full well that Mosul was in realty a fallen area (politically and security) of the control of the Iraqi State, even before June 2014.
The length of presence Daesh in Mosul, created a new generation of young people believe in Daesh’s aim, here it is necessary to admit that the military alternative to a new mutation of Daesh will not be less evil or destructive and terrorist acts of bombings and others will continue and will move more to the inside Iraqi cities, as well as some areas will remain outside State authority.
There are important factors that will influence the course of the Iraqi political scenery following the liberation of Mosul; Of which the proportion of the destruction of the city of Mosul; the number of victims and the speed of its liberation, and the scale of IDPs as a result of the battle, which will also have negative repercussions on the stability of the Kurdistan region; the ability of the central government to extend its authority over the city, in addition to the speed of the recovery of the apparatus of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and other security agencies to turn the battle against terrorism to one on initiative rather than reactive.
To constantly talk about division of Iraq, from some Iraqi parties and some neighboring countries, without the clarity of its repercussions on the region does in fact create an atmosphere of tension and will increase the sectarian and regional conflicts for a long time to come. Real and clear dialogue between the Iraqi parties is necessary to reduce the tension and rebuild the state and its social fabric. Here it is clear that Iraqi political leaders did not prepare, from the moment they decided not to coexist with Daesh, for the post-Daesh and hence some upcoming opportunities will be lost as a result of its ill-preparedness for this blessed day.
There are question on some important outstanding issues (such as the captivity and enslavement of Yazidis; the destruction of heritage sites; mass graves and others) as to who will be in charge of the treatment and follow-up on these social and political sensitive issues? Those who are the victims of Daesh will look carefully at the actions of the government and its political alliances on their willingness to help minorities and create a positive atmosphere of coexistence and social harmony. In addition another important matter relates to the complexities of dealing and coexistence with the parties who colluded and sympathized with Daesh. Is it easy to hope that revenge and retaliation are not prevailing or on the other hand not to deal with the issue at all, here comes the role of the government and NGOs and the international community in creating a new environment of social justice and working on a new formula for coexistence?
Iraq has the elements of strength of the construction and development of its social and political fabric, although Iraq endured crises accumulated with the drop in oil prices and with the presence of war for more than a decade against terrorism and with the political violent within the House of Representatives and the protesters and entering of the Green Zone, but it all happened within the constitutional mechanisms and in a peaceful manner. Destruction of Daesh is a golden opportunity for the various Iraqi parties to rebuild the country and society on new political and constitutional foundations, as we can not rely on the current political culture and its mechanisms and methodology to restore the well-being of the State and people of Iraq.