June 11, 2014

The Fall of Mosul: A Catalyst For Constructive Solutions or Civil War?

The fall of Mosul to the terrorist group known as ISIS came as a surprise to people within Iraq and outside the country. It is all very confusing. How could an organization that has had trouble battling for small cities and villages in the Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria take control of Iraq's second largest city so easily and swiftly? I've read reports from local people on Twitter that these terrorists were actually retreating to Mosul from northern Syria, so were they attacking the city from a position of strength or desperation?

And why did the Iraqi military not even put up a fight? There are suggestions that many of the Iraqi soldiers stationed in Mosul are Shiites who did not want to defend the city but head back home down south. Another theory is that the army was ordered to stand down by Maliki, for God knows what reason. A resident said that, "There was no presence of any government forces on the streets." Regardless of why the army stood down, this represents a massive failure for the Iraqi central government.

The threat of ISIS should not be overblown. It looks like that ISIS didn't do the bulk of the damage to the Iraqi military. They mainly scared them away. The actual fighting, however little of it, was done by more competent and trailed professionals. Read this interesting excerpt from this article: "The Baathist ‘General Military Council’ is claiming it played a large role in driving the Iraqi army out of parts of Ninevah province. They have thus far not engaged ISIS and it is unlikely they will for the time being."

Some former Baathist generals have joined radical Sunni organizations in cities like Fallujah and have even taken up arms with groups like al-Qaeda against Maliki. Read the article, "Iraqi Officer Takes Dark Turn to al Qaeda" for more information.

Baathist loyalists who are experienced fighters are more to be feared than these clownish and juvenile Jihadist terrorists who think it is fun to play soccer with chopped off heads. They are not even from the area so they don't know the local geography or the customs and histories of the different populations. In a long fight they will lose, both in Syria and Iraq. The only question is how much destruction will they inflict on Mosul and the surrounding areas?

History has already defeated these hateful, fundamentalist, and racist groups. These are not holy conquerors but brainwashed terrorists who have bitten off more than they can chew. These baboons believe wearing a long beard and quoting passages from the Koran makes them Muslims. But in reality they are neither fighters, nor Muslims, and not even human beings. They are monsters from hell and bringers of death for death's sake. Such an army will never win anything. Mosul will not be theirs to keep.

This crisis can either lead to the long-anticipated break up of Iraq, or to new constructive political solutions that will bring together the various competing factions in the country. Read the article below.

An excerpt from, "Mosul Security Crisis: A Chance to Break Iraq's Political Logjam" by Michael Knights, June 10:
The ISIS problem and the need for parliamentary compromise offer potentially fertile ground for a national unity effort in which Baghdad could give ground on several issues: to the Kurds regarding near-term oil export ambitions, and to Sunni Arab factions regarding political and security reforms and federalism for the areas they represent. Indeed, the available compromise options are well known and could be implemented if the political will were present on all sides. Although the Kurds and the federal government continue to argue over important oil and revenue details, there is considerable overlap between their positions. Baghdad now accepts that the Kurdish region will sell its oil to world markets, receiving the revenues (minus Kuwaiti reparations) as a form of advance on the monthly block transfers from the federal Finance Ministry to the KRG. Only details such as exact bank accounts and marketing arrangements stand in the way of a deal. Yet the infighting continues -- when tankers of Kurdish-administered oil left Turkey on May 22 and June 9, Baghdad issued warnings to potential buyers and launched arbitration against Ankara.

Such brinksmanship should cease in light of the calamitous loss of control in Mosul. In fact, Baghdad may need to buy Kurdish support for stabilizing the city and other besieged areas, namely with concessions on oil marketing and revenue management.

Likewise, the Mosul crisis and the growing ISIS threat create a moment of strong mutual interest for Maliki and the Nujaifi-led Sunni political class. Committing to appoint a fully empowered Sunni Arab defense minister in the next government could go a long way toward mobilizing Sunni resistance against ISIS and hastening the next government's formation. Similarly, quashing the questionable federal terrorism indictments against former finance minister Rafi al-Issawi would greatly facilitate a new cross-sectarian front against the group. Announcing a strong Maliki-Nujaifi compact on de-Baathification and counterterrorism reforms is eminently possible -- indeed, Maliki already attempted to pass such reforms in 2013, lacking only Shiite support that might now be available given the deepening crisis. And as mentioned above, constructive dialogue on the legally permissible option of forming one or more administrative regions (akin to the KRG) in majority Sunni Arab provinces would be a wise step if the practical challenges were honestly debated.