16:40 GMT06 April 2020
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    The German magazine Focus suggests four scenarios which would enable ISIL to gain the upper hand in Iraq. The scenarios were proposed by former CIA Vice President John Edward McLaughlin.

    The former CIA Vice President John Edward McLaughlin suggests a horror scenario, when ISIL would win in Iraq, and lists four conditions that could make it possible.

    1. US coalition does not send ground troops

    The first scenario stipulates that the US-led coalition will be unable to organize sufficiently powerful ground forces. Air strikes alone will not be enough to weaken the ISIL, and the Iraqi army does not have sufficient capabilities to defeat terrorists.

    At the same time, the idea of sending US ground troops would not win much domestic support after the sad experience in the bloody Iraqi war. The Arab States have the will to set up an army, but they lack experience and unity, McLaughlin argues.

    As long as there is no ground offensive, ISIL can continue to use its smuggling routes over land and gain further territories, the expert said.

    2. The ISIL reaches Baghdad

    If the ISIL fighters intervene in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, it would have serious consequences for the entire region. The local residents would indeed defend the city to the death, but ISIL would probably not even need a victory to make its expansion successful.

    According to expert, it would be enough to send fighters and weapons to Baghdad to wreak havoc the city and show that the defense cannot withstand the jihadists. This would further strengthen the impact of IS in Anbar province, particularly, in the recently conquered city of Ramadi.

    3. Iraq continues to fall apart

    The fighting could lead to a situation in which the country falls apart. The push for autonomy for the Kurds was temporarily interrupted by the conflict, McLaughlin wrote. But should they take the lead in a ground offensive against ISIL (and if Iraq's army continues to refrain from decisive action), attempts to gain independence would increase and the country would fall apart.

    4. Iran withdraws its forces

    According to McLaughlin, much progress in Iraq was achieved thanks to Iran’s military forces, which play a key role in fighting the terrorist group. However, neither Saudi Arabia nor the United States are willing to approve a stronger involvement of Tehran. The government in Riyadh is afraid that the Iranian troops would not stop at the Saudi Arabian border. Washington, in turn, fears the strengthening of Tehran’s influence and losing its own positions in the region.

    Withdrawal of Iranian forces is, therefore, a likely option. This would however lead to a significant weakening of the coalition.


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