The Political Implications Of Iraq’s Mosul Offensive

The fight for Mosul is taking place in territories characterized by a patchwork of overlapping ethnic, religious and national identities. Kurdish forces have effectively extended their control over more northern oil fields with PM ‘Abadi apparently unwilling and unable to challenge them.

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)