A London summit, attended by 21 countries, including Iraq’s government, agreed in January 2015 to recapture territory in Iraq occupied by ISIS militants, especially Mosul, in a spring/summer campaign, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The US promised training and equipment as well as support from the air. But it excluded sending ground troops.
The offensive, by the Iraqi regular army and Shia militia, strongly supported by training, advice and aerial cover from the US, began with mild success. It has the backing of 2,000 Iranian troops.
The recapture of the strategically important, central Iraqi city of Ramadi by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a big blow for the coalition. It justifies doubts on the ability of troops to succeed.
The only group which has so far successfully resisted ISIS, the Kurds, was excluded from the London summit. This could now prove to be a crucial mistake created by wanting to maintain the illusion of a unified Iraqi state, with Baghdad having sovereign rights over Kurdistan.
GIS suggested in a statement on February 2, 2015, that the planned offensive would not be as smooth and efficient as was hoped and ran the risk of failure without US troops on the ground.
GIS expert Professor Dr Amatzia Baram has also highlighted these problems in various reports. He warned on May 15, 2015, that ISIS might not disappear, even if defeated momentarily for now. It will also be crucial how Shia-dominated Baghdad behaves towards the Sunni tribes.
Iraq is bound to disappear as a unified state. The experiment, after Saddam Hussein’s defeat, of maintaining a peaceful, democratic Iraq, delivering power to the Shia majority, has failed. But it appears that neither Baghdad nor the international community has really learned the lesson.