After Mosul and Raqqa, risks multiply

Wrecked buildings and cars in Mosul
July 9, 2017: Mosul was a wilderness of demolished buildings and wrecked cars after its recapture by Iraqi forces in nine months of house-to-house fighting (source: dpa)
  • Iraq will need a political process including Sunnis to cope with a “son of Daesh”
  • Al-Qaeda is developing a sophisticated franchise to fill the jihadi vacuum
  • Iran’s push into the Levant, and Turkey’s battle with the Kurds, will constrain Western responses

As the battle for Mosul concludes, the battle for Raqqa is entering its initial phase. From a military perspective, the fall of these twin bastions of Daesh (otherwise known as Islamic State, or IS) was never in doubt. The only question was the cost, in human lives and material destruction, and the strategic consequences.

In Mosul, the cost is clear. Damage to the city – retaken in savage, door-to-door fighting by a coalition of Iraqi Army and the Interior Ministry troops, Iran-backed Shia militias, Kurdish Peshmerga and Western special forces – is massive. The death toll has not been established but is certain to be very high. Adding to the carnage is the plight of 900,000 displaced civilians, inadequately fed and sheltered in various improvised camps around Mosul.

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