The War to Take Back Mosul

Alizay Rizvi

War is something very familiar to humans.. For a very long time, the desert country of Iraq has been ravaged by the shells of bullets and the smoke of bombs. The terrorist organization ISIS has taken over a large majority of Iraq. This includes the once beautiful city of Mosul, which has now been overrun with slave trade and warfare.

Located just 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, Mosul was the second-largest city in Iraq. The population of Mosul was 1.8 million in 2004 but has shrunk to only 600,000. This does not include the ISIS military, whose numbers are said to be at 10,000 or more.

The Iraqi forces, along with help from the International Coalition, now have a shot at taking Mosul back. They have even received recent support from Russia in the form of surveillance aircrafts and drones. According to the Peshmerga general and the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Sirwan Barzani, Mosul may be reclaimed in as little as two months.

This is very unlikely. With the ongoing battle for Mosul, the Iraqi forces have freed several surrounding cities and have prepared approximately 11 camps that can host 120,000 refugees. With the recent freeing of Qaraqosh, a largely Christian city, the Iraqi forces rescued 50,000 refugees. Then ISIS retook the city..

There have also been several sightings of ISIS militants escaping to Syria. I have no idea why the Iraqi forces let the ISIS members escape. This currently is Russia’s biggest concern with Iraq. Army General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s General Staff, has said: “We hope that our partners from the international coalition realize, what would be the consequences of having bands freely roaming around the Middle East. Terrorist should be destroyed on sight, not chased from one country to another.” While it is good that they have a military plan on how to take the city from ISIS and to help with any of the refugees, the biggest loophole in their plan is what to with the ISIS forces. Along with Russia, recently, Turkey has also extended a “hand of friendship” to assist in the retaking of Mosul. The prime minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi responded to this in a negative fashion. That was a mistake.

Despite the previous grudge matches between Turkey and Iraq, Iraq is going to need all the help it can get if it wants to successfully take back Mosul. There is nothing wrong with extending a hand in friendship as this could perhaps open future doors for Iraq and their betterment. Although, I believe Iraq’s main reason for not accepting Turkey’s request could be because of the people who live in Mosul. Back when the Ottoman Empire took over, people who came to live in Mosul are originally Turks. Because of this, Iraq may be afraid that if it allows Turkish forces in, Turkey may decide to overrule the area. Currently, Turkish troops have occupied the camp of Bashiqa and are “training Kurdish and local arab fighters”. This is absolutely ridiculous. The Kurds don’t  need any more training. They are exceptional warriors on their own and were able to take back Bashiqa camp from ISIS forces on their own, despite casualties. Turkey has been told to back off and respect the Iraqi government’s wishes by U.S. forces.

Along with this, Al-Abadi has stated the government has no plan for the people of Mosul. This is ridiculous. If you plan to take back a city within the next two months, it would also be a good idea for you to have a plan for the people.

ISIS isn’t the only problem Iraq faces with taking back Mosul. In Mosul, the majority of the population is Sunni, while the majority of the Iraqi militia is Shia. This is a problem. It’s like putting Roman Catholics and Protestants into one city and telling them to run their own government on a religious basis. Iraq is a very religious nation by nature, so while the two sects may seem similar, unless they form a coherent plan it is going to cause a lot of problems.

So what’s going to be the future of Mosul? We don’t really know for sure, but it is going to take at least a year, maybe more, to take back Mosul. On top of that, it is only if Iraq itself captures Mosul, as several countries have their eyes on this prized city. And unless they capture the ISIS militants, all they’re going to do is let ISIS continue their mad massacre in the name of “religion.”

Iraq needs a coherent plan. While it is good the nation is receiving help from several others to retake its land, it must also understand governing people is not easy. Despite it being a largely Shia nation, there are a lot of problems that it must resolve there.

But we can’t forget the good things. Despite all the wars, it has managed to hold its ground and remain strong.

Iraq has a fighting chance. One day, things will be better.