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Iraq’s military offensive to liberate Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), launched on 17 October, continues to grind forward, but in many ways the politics is already overshadowing the war.
Militarily, the northern and southern prongs of the offensive have only taken areas around the city. Only the eastern push led by federal special forces has made progress into the city proper, and even they have yet to reach the Tigris River which bisects the city.
Politically, the Ninawa front – Mosul, a predominately Sunni Arab city, is the province’s capital – is important to the standing of Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi, the key supporter of the American military role which is otherwise viewed skeptically by many Shia. The fight over chunks of territory within Ninawa’s complex ethno-sectarian mix, some of them containing oil reserves, is also a controversial fault line that sends political tremors across the country. (CONTINUED - 1917 WORDS)