Iraqi Forces Liberate Mosul and the Reconstruction Battle Has Started
By William Tucker
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Earlier this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the northern Iraqi city of Mosul had been liberated from the Islamic State (IS) after a nine-month operation.
Abadi spoke while he was visiting Iraqi troops involved in the operation, who cheered the “collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood.” There were celebrations across the city, despite continuing sporadic violence between Iraqi forces and IS holdouts.
On July 11, a coalition spokesman stated that operations were continuing to remove these remaining forces from Mosul’s Old City. Both the Associated Press and the BBC independently confirmed the continuance of violence and noted that airstrikes were still occurring, in addition to fighting on the ground. IS will eventually be forced out of Mosul, but it still has forces in the surrounding areas.
Amnesty International Accuses Iraq of Excessive Force in Recapturing Mosul
The operation took far longer than anticipated by the Iraqi government. The destruction visited upon the city and its inhabitants is substantial. An Amnesty International report on the battle claimed that Iraqi forces had used excessive force. Not surprisingly, the Iraqi coalition denied the report and claimed that the situation on the ground was profoundly difficult.
Amnesty International also reported that IS displaced thousands of Iraqis, tortured many citizens and used them as human shields in the operation. Nearly one million Iraqis were displaced and the civilian casualty toll is expected to be substantial.
The status of the city’s infrastructure is similarly unknown, but photos of the devastation are shocking. Mosul is an important city and the Iraqi government must come up with substantial funding to rebuild and reestablish its administrative functions.
This reconstruction will take time. In addition, the political issues that led to this disaster still need to be addressed.
Islamic State Has Lost Territory, Funding and Fighters
IS is rapidly losing ground because the governments of Iraq and Syria are able to reestablish the state with international backing. Nevertheless, it’s not just ground the Islamic State has lost; it’s also the ability to make money.
The loss of territory removes black market oil sales and smuggling routes, which will ultimately force IS to find alternative methods for raising funds. In addition to its territorial losses, IS has also lost fighters through attrition in combat and defections to other rebel groups.
But IS will still be able to function if the political vacuum remains in Iraq with the Shia majority government sidelining the Sunni minority. The same problem holds true in Syria, where a secular Baathist regime is regaining power by liquidating its Sunni rebel foes.
With these two neighboring nations having Sunni majorities, it is vital for both governments to reintegrate their Sunni minorities into a siingular political body. Without political reconciliation, military efforts are doomed to drag on in a battle of attrition, in which civilians will pay the highest price.