05:41 GMT25 February 2021
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    As an Iraqi military operation to reclaim the country’s second largest city of Mosul from Daesh militants goes into full play, the fast success of the offensive could lead to unpredictable – and possibly disastrous – consequences, a US expert specializing in Middle East Policy claimed.

    The swift liberation of Mosul by government forces backed by Western powers could result in a situation that Michael Knights, an expert from the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy, calls a "catastrophic success." The defeat of Daesh could trigger fierce struggle of a variety rival groups to gain the power in the city, he asserted.

    Despite the fact Brett McGurk, an envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Daesh, describing the offensive launched against extremists in Mosul as “low, steady squeeze,” the progress in operation is going faster than one could have expected, Knights said.

    Mosul has recently become the most shelled city by US-Led Coalition in the course of anti-Daesh effort across Iraq and Syria, bearing the palm from Ramadi. Nine of 20 of the coalition’s latest airstrikes targeted Daesh propaganda sites and the group’s manufacturing facilities.

    Meanwhile, troops of four Iraqi army brigades are being deployed within 40 kilometers of the Mosul’s southeastern border, and new forces are expected to join them.

    Two US-equipped Kurdish Peshmerga brigades are also prepared to join the fight for the city, Knights added. Other Peshmerga forces are distributed around Mosul’s eastern and northern borders.

    The dissent against Daesh is also growing within Mosul itself, Knights continued, citing reports of vigilante brigades fighting against the extremists.

    According to figures provided by the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy, there are more than 100,000 former Iraqi servicemen not linked to Daesh in Mosul against seven thousand of active Daesh supporters. The amount of weapons in Mosul is sufficient to equip every citizen of the city with population of 450 thousand people. In case of anti-Daesh uprising, the citizens could reasonably take advantage of extremists.

    If Daesh is crushed sooner than American and Iraqi military strategists assessed, another conflict between forces that are now joined by a common enemy, but in their nature have different goals, could be sparked, Knights suggeted. The groups include Iraqi Internal Security Forces (ISF), Kurdish forces, Shia militias, anti-ISIL Sunni. The post-Daesh turmoil could also attract to the inner affairs international actors like Turkey and Iran, he added.

    Under one of possible scenarios, in Knights view, Mosul self-liberators could easily stop the Iraqi government and Kurds at the doorstep of the city and trigger bitter “interfactional” struggle. To what consequences it could lead, we could judge looking at the fate of Beirut, the Leabanon capital that has seen decades of local fights.


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