10 points: Why the defeat of ISIS in Mosul will not end that threat, but move it elsewhere

Lindsey German


Iraq’s second city had been razed to the ground

1.    There may have been victory celebrations in Baghdad as Islamic State was defeated in Mosul, but the situation within Iraq and Syria remains dire.

2.    The fall of Mosul was achieved at huge cost. According to Patrick Cockburn in the Evening Standard, ISIS were only driven out by the US led coalition bombing every building that they defended, leading to devastation in the city, high civilian casualties and lack of food, water and other amenities.

3.    The siege of Mosul, begun last autumn, took much longer than expected, with ISIS developing military tactics using asymmetrical warfare such as suicide bombing, IEDs and booby traps, as well as extensive use of snipers.

4.    ISIS has been defeated in Mosul, and Raqqa in Syria will soon follow. But it will continue to use these tactics in other parts of Iraq and Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East and in the countries of Europe involved in the bombing.

5.    Divisions of ethnicity and religion have been exacerbated in Mosul and there is every sign that they will continue. Kurds, Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims have suffered at the hands of ISIS. Sunni Muslims from the city are under suspicion because some allied with ISIS. The misery and suffering of all sides may well lead to further conflict.

6.    The defeat of ISIS is likely to lead to further power struggles in the region, with all the major players wanting to advance their cause and strategic control. There is already the growing threat of further wars, involving Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the former is being backed by Trump.

7.    ISIS itself grew out of the war and occupation in Iraq, which began as part of the war on terror in 2003, whose aim was to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Iraq has been a country devastated by war ever since. In Mosul alone, it is estimated that 1 million people have been displaced.

8.    As widely predicted at the time, the Iraq war in 2003 has led to greater instability and greater threats of terrorism across the Middle East. The defeat of ISIS in Mosul will not end that threat, but move it elsewhere.

9.    The victims here will remain the ordinary people of the region who have suffered the most terrible set of ordeals over the past years. Unfortunately, government policy of backing Trump and Saudi Arabia will do nothing to end this, but may lead to greater conflagration.

10.    There is no foreign military solution to this situation. Britain’s participation in these wars, and its support for regimes like the Saudis, only prolongs the agony of the people of the Middle East.

11 Jul 2017

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