Iraq’s Mosul Offensive Begins Amid Patchwork Coalition

The long-awaited launch of the military offensive to liberate Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) was initiated on 17 October. The extent of coordination between federal forces and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is notable. But divisions will come to the fore again following the operation, if not earlier, particularly over oil-rich disputed territories.

In his televised statement announcing the operation, Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi emphasized that only the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS, Iraq’s Special Forces), the regular federal army and federal police personnel would enter Mosul proper. The point was to emphasize that neither Shia militias nor the Kurdish Peshmerga would be entering Sunni Arab-populated urban areas. IS has held Mosul since June 2014, when Iraqi army divisions in the north, weakened by corruption and politicization under the former government, collapsed in the face of a small but determined attack. (CONTINUED - 1103 WORDS)