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This Is What Will Happen to Mosul After Isis Is Pushed Out
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I visited Mosul on the day it fell to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and a small detachment of US Special Forces on 11 April 2003. As we drove into the city, we passed lines of pick-up trucks piled high with loot returning to the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq. US soldiers at a checkpoint, over which waved the Stars and Stripes, were shooting at a man in the distance who kept bobbing up from behind a wall and waving the Iraqi flag.

If there had ever been any sympathy between liberators and liberated in Mosul, it was disappearing fast. Inside the city, every government building, including the university, was being systematically looted by Kurds and Arabs alike. I saw one man who had stolen an enormous and very ugly red and gold sofa from the governor’s office dragging it slowly down the street. He would push one end of the sofa a few feet forward and then go to the other end and repeat the same process. The mosques were soon calling on the Sunni Arab majority to build barricades to defend their neighbourhoods from marauders.

We parked our vehicle near a medieval quarter of ancient stone buildings while we went to see a Christian ecclesiastic. When we got back, we found that our driver was very frightened and wanted to get out of Mosul as fast as possible. He explained that soon after we left a crowd had gathered, recognised our number plates as Kurdish and debated lynching him and setting fire to his car before being restrained by a local religious leader moments before they took action.

The oil city of Kirkuk was captured at about the same time by the Peshmerga, despite having promised the Americans and Turks that they would do no such thing. Again, there was looting everywhere and I saw two Peshmerga stand in the middle of the road to stop an enormous yellow bulldozer that was being driven off. Instead of slowing down, the driver put his foot on the accelerator so the Peshmerga had to jump aside to avoid being crushed.

Inside the newly established Peshmerga headquarters, I ran into Pavel Talabani, whose father Jalal Talabani headed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the political party whose militia now held the city. He stressed the temporary nature of the Kurdish occupation of the city. “We came to control the situation,” he said. “We expect to withdraw some of our men in 45 minutes.”

Some Peshmerga, but not all: 13 years later the Kurds still hold Kirkuk, whose population is Kurdish, Arab and Turkoman, and to which the Kurds claim an historic right saying they have only reversed anti-Kurdish ethnic cleansing by Saddam Hussein.

By now the rest of the world has forgotten that there was a time when the Kurds did not hold the city. The Kurdish leaders had understood that the US-led invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein had created conditions of unprecedented political fluidity and it was an ideal moment to create facts on the map, which would become permanent whatever the protestations of other players.

The current multi-pronged offensive aimed at taking Mosul is producing a similar situation as different countries, parties and communities vie to fill the vacuum they expect to be created by the fall of Isis, just as in 2003 the vacuum was the result of the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The different segments of the anti-Isis forces potentially involved in seizing Mosul – the Iraqi army, Kurds, Shia and Sunni paramilitaries, Turks – may be temporary allies, but they are also rivals. They all have their own very different and conflicting agendas. Presiding over this ramshackle and disputatious alliance is the US, which is orchestrating the Mosul offensive and without whose air power and Special Forces there would be no attack.

The Shia-dominated Iraqi government needs to take and hold Mosul, Iraq’s main Sunni Arab city, if it is to be convincing as the national government of Iraq. To achieve this, Baghdad’s rule must be acceptable to the Sunni majority in the city in a way that was not true when Isis took it in 2014. It needs to establish its rule while it still has full military and political support from the US.

The Kurds, for their part, want to solidify their control of the so-called “disputed territories” claimed by both the central government and the Kurdish regional authorities. The Kurds opportunistically used the defeat of the Iraqi Army in northern Iraq by Isis two years ago to take these territories inhabited by both Kurds and Arabs, thereby expanding by 40 per cent the area of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). They know that once Isis is defeated, the Kurds will no longer get international and, above all, American backing to hold this expanded version of the KRG.

These problems have only begun to surface because Mosul is still a long way from being besieged or even encircled.

The Shia militia forces are surprisingly calm about being excluded from a military role in the siege. They may calculate that the Iraqi army, if it gets sucked into street fighting, will not be able to take Mosul on its own and will have to look to them for support. The Shia paramilitaries are making up for their lack of participation in the battle for Mosul by sending reinforcements – some 5,000 men, according to reports – to join the Syrian Army in the siege of East Aleppo.

Turkey wants to be a player and, as a great Sunni power, the defender of the Sunnis of Mosul. To this end, it has soldiers based at Bashiqa, north east of Mosul, and claims to be taking part in the attack. But so far at least, Turkish ambitions and rhetoric in Iraq and Syria have exceeded its performance. Both interventions may be designed to impress a domestic audience which is deluged with exaggerated accounts of Turkish achievements in the government-controlled Turkish media.


These participants in the struggle for Mosul may be dividing the tiger’s skin before the tiger is properly dead. Isis showed that it still has sharp claws when it responded to the assault on Mosul with raids on Kirkuk and Rutbah on the main Iraq-Jordan road. It is fighting hard to slow down the anti-Isis advance towards Mosul with a mix of suicide bombers, IEDs, booby-traps, snipers and mortar teams. But it is unclear if it will make a last stand in Mosul where, at the end of the day, it must go down to defeat in the face of superior numbers backed by the massive firepower of the US-led air forces.

The likelihood is that Isis will fight for Mosul, the site of its first great victory, in order to prolong the battle, cause casualties and to let divisions emerge among its enemies. But its strategy over the last 12 months has been not to stage heroic but doomed last stands in any of the cities it has lost in Iraq and Syria.

At Ramadi, Fallujah, Sinjar, Palmyra and Manbij it has staged a fighting withdrawal at the last moment. The same may now happen in Mosul.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, ISIS, Syria 
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  1. The Kurds are traitors. They carry out the terror activities of the occupiers US-Israel-Britain. Israel/US constructed ISIS to brfing chaos to kill thousands of Muslims to prepare the region for partition for the SECOND ISRAEL, Kurdistan, for the interest of the west and ‘greater Israel’. The traitor kurds are spying for Israel/US for50 years and terrorizing the regional states for the interest of the West and Israel. They have killed Turkmen, Iranians, Syrians, Christians, Arabs to help the goal of the criminals in Tel Aviv and Washington. The regional governments must work together to teach these traitors who is in charge.

    Whoever supports these terrorists and fifth columnists is an enemy of the people of the region.
    The traitor kurds cannot establish the second Israel and will be crushed soon with their criminal masters in Tel Aviv , Washington, Britain and France. Death to a second Israel. The Zionist colonists must fuck off from the region now, so the criminals from US-Britain-france.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  2. When the Brits and French carved up the Ottoman Empire after WW I they deliberately created Iraq as an inherently unstable amalgamation of mutually antagonistic ethno-religious groups. They did this to make sure they could easily control or else topple any regime that interfered with European exploitation of the region’s oil resources. The best thing that could happen to the various peoples of Iraq is the partition of the region into new and more stable countries based on racial, ethnic and religious realities. The Kurds and Shias have just started exploiting a now inevitable process that the original Sunni/Arab ruling minority in Iraq foolishly began.

    • Replies: @Mooser
  3. {to the various peoples of Iraq is the partition of the region into new and more}

    How could people stay as ignorant after all these bloodshed?

    Look at the partition of Palestine. Look at the partition of South Sudan done by the criminal American terrorist, John Kerry, Samatha Power, Obama, Clinton.

    If partition is Soooooooo GOOD for the imposter zionist jews, then why the west do not allow the partition of Calonia???????????????? – Britain, America, Canada and many more countries. If partition is so good for the criminal West, then why these terrorists do not allow Ukrain, which has been part of Russia for a long time to be sepratged??

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
  4. @No second Israel

    Nothing would please the zionists and neocons more than an Iraq that is permanently rocked by brutal racial and sectarian violence because it is shared by at least four different racial/ethnic/religious groups who loath each other and none of which is strong enough to control the others. The Ba’ath Party was a strong enough and ruthless enough organization to control Iraq and make it a regional power. They originally seized power during a historic alignment that is unlikely ever to recur. That’s precisely the reason Israel conspired with US zionists and neocons to remove from power and eradicate Iraq’s Ba’athist Party after the USA’s 2002 invasion of Iraq. Notice that these same elements are now attempting to do exactly the same thing in Syria.

    • Replies: @No Second Israel
  5. Rehmat says:
    @No Second Israel

    All Kurds are not traitors just like all Jews are not Zionist filth.

    However, Zionists like many to believe that Kurds love Jews more than Arabs.

    On October 27, 2016, Anshel Pfeffer, a British-Israeli journalist reported at UK’s Jewish Chronicle that fall of Daesh capital Mosul into the hands of Iraqi forces is bad for Israel because it will bring Iraqi Shi’ite and their Iranian military advisers closer to Israel.

    Peffefer also claimed that some Iraqi Kurd military officers fighting against Daesh confided to him that “the position of the Shia militias effectively gives Iran and its proxies control of the entire border region between Iraq and Syria.”

    As a typical Zionist pig, he boasted: “One senior officer told me Kurds have always seen Israel as an ally. Many Kurds live in Israel and we have worked well together in the past. From our point of view, one Israeli is worth the entire Iranian nation.”

  6. Anonymous [AKA "Denkfout"] says:

    How fortunate we are to be enlightened by these insightful and well thought out comments that so befit the progressive left ideal and aren’t antisemitic at all. I feel like I am much better informed for it, and I am not even being sarcastic about that.

  7. @Jus' Sayin'...

    {Nothing would please the zionists and neocons more than an Iraq that is permanently rocked by brutal racial and sectarian violence..}

    The sectarian violence is created by the criminal imperialists/Zionists to create chaos to be able to kill and partition the regional states, like in WWI. The entire Kurdistan and kurds were part of Iran until early 16th century when Ottoman Sultan invaded Persia and stole part of Kurdistan where later was divided by the criminal British empire let by the Zionist criminals, Rothschild family. This is part of the project going on for the past few centuries, ‘world government’. They will continue their criminal goal unless a UNITED FRONT bomb these criminals beyond recognition. There is no other ways. The opportunist kurds and Westerners who are silent against all these massacre and terrorist activities are war criminals who are complicit in US-Israel-Britain war crimes against humanity and we have no Sympathy for these criminals.

    {The Ba’ath Party was a strong enough and ruthless enough organization to control Iraq ..}

    Americans/Israelis have been far more brutal and mass murderers, unique in the history of mankind. That’s why we have such a brutal situation in each country surrounding the occupied land of Palestine. These criminals brought terrors brutality and massacre and refugees for decates to come with the help of the criminal population, and now this dumb population is voting for a criminal pussy and mass murderer in millions. Where do you find more brutality than brutality done by US-Israel-Britain? There is NO comparison between Iraq, Libya, Syria of today and the days before the brutal invasion. These countries have been destroyed by the criminal Zionists/imperialists and their criminal population. They have massacred millions of people including children. We will not be deceived by dumb rhetoric.

    Look at the land of Palestine. They brought the colonists from Europe and America to PARTITION Palestine to create such chaos, the rest is history. The PARTITION OF PALESTINE is one important factor to carry these brutal terrors. During the past 100 years in Palestine they are using terrors and massacre to steal Palestine and CREATE MORE ISRAEL IN THE REGION where have affected the entire region and the world.
    This is NOT going to be solved unless the criminal side be defeated at any cost. The partition of Palestine has created an opportunity for the criminals and their imposter ‘intellectuals’, Noam Chomsky, to advance their position towards ‘world government’.
    People of the region must be united to defeat these criminal racists and baby killers. We warn the Kurds to remember that the people of the region suffered a lot and will go after the traitors day after the opportunity arise. No doubt about that.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
  8. @No Second Israel

    I don’t know whether you realize it but your very words confirm my point about the racial, ethnic and religious animosities that make a stable Iraq unlikely in the extreme. Consider the middle sentence of your last paragraph:

    ” … We warn the Kurds to remember that the people of the region suffered a lot and will go after the traitors day after the opportunity arise. …. ”

    This certainly suggests, shall we say, a certain animosity towards the Kurds. An animosity of exactly the type I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I’m sure we could find the same sentiments expressed by a Shia about Sunnis, or by a Sunni about Shias, or by an Arab about non-Arabs, etc., etc. This is hardly the foundation for a stable nation-state.

    • Replies: @No Second Israel
  9. The most likely scenario, as the Russians and Syrians suspect, is that ISIS in Mosul, in the care of various US escort services, are moving over the border into Syria. Some will be sent off to Raqqa, others to Aleppo, if they can manage it.

    Like other dating services, their escorts will advise them how to dress and talk like moderate terrorists and fit in with near non-existent Syrian opposition forces. Some of them may even shave.

    Look forward to a whole new spate of names, atrocities, posion gases and such.

    Prom night will then feature open US intervention in Syria with an attack on Raqqa, as effective as the US led offensive on Mosul, along with much talk about the rejuvenated, clean-shaven opposition in east Aleppo and other venues, don’t you think?

    At least that is the plan–as antiquary and authentic as Old Spice.

    But old saw ignored may return to haunt: beware Russians when they bide time.

    • Replies: @RobinG
  10. I guess the indigenous Assyrians who were first brutalized by the Ottoman’s Kurdish proxies a century ago and are being cleansed again now don’t warrant a mention?

  11. Mooser says:
    @Jus' Sayin'...

    “racial, ethnic and religious realities.”

    Ah yes, those are the constant and unchanging realities on which we must base judgments.

  12. Marcus says:

    The “allies” are going to allow IS an escape route to the west so they can continue fighting in Syria, then this fragile coalition will fall apart and Iraq will devolve into a slightly less violent anarchy.

  13. @Jus' Sayin'...

    YOU don’t get it, do you?

    people in these countries do not express animosity towards each other. The kurds are married with Sunni, Shiite and other groups. They have lived together for thousands of years. The division comes when the imperialism and Zionism invade countries for their purpose. The animosity comes when the Kurds are terrorize the people on behalf of imperialism and Zionism, colonial power for their own interests.

    Read Oded Yinon or history of imperialism and Zionism to understand that they use religious and minority divide to bring chaos and partition the regional states. Study the history of the region to realize this very fact.

    If Russia and Turkey do the same and pour money and arms into different groups in the US, Britain, then these colonial and criminal states will be cut into many pieces. US is already very divided country. It does not take much before falling.
    Israel is illegal thus, according to Oded Yinon, the regional states must be destabilize, terrorize into smaller countries so the Zionist mass murderers survive.
    The kurds are helping these criminal’s project.

    Why Catalonia can not be seprated from Spain, or Ukrain? But Sudan was divided by the criminal west and criminal Zionist Jews, save Darfur and Charles Jacobs. Look at these countries?
    Why Palestine should be divided and finally stolen by the Zionist colonist? Raise your voice against imperialism and Zionism.
    Cockburn for the first time in this piece is showing some of the cunning of the kurds. We know it very well. They act exactly like the Zionist racists and are involved in the terror supported by US-Israel-Britain, an axis of evil.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
  14. Under the headline, “U.S. aircraft to block ISIL militants fleeing Mosul in Iraq”, is retailed today by USA Today the following, straight from Harrigian’s mouth:

    (1) As US and coalition ground forces close in on Mosul and head west toward Syria, “we have a built-in mechanism”, says General Harrigian, “to kill them as they are departing”.

    (2) According to the General, the weak point is the western approaches to the city, which are not well defended, and that is where the air arm will “go after them.”

    (3) Shi’ite forces, banned from combat in the city by the coalition, are now, on their own initiative, moving to same western approaches to block escaping ISIS on the ground.

    (4) Ah, but to the US, these militias present a “political problem”, you see, and the US does not want them there because they are not under the command and control of the Iraqi government–ahem.

    Does anyone need a translation? “Political problem” here signifies: “They might actually kill ISIS.”

    “Built-in mechanism”, on the other hand, translates: the Coalition’s air escort of ISIS into Syria,

    The latter no doubt also aims to warn Russia and Syria aircraft off, since the US intends to be fully in charge of the air all the way to Raqqa.

    Neat little narrative, no?

    But, as the Russians already know, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and they have just increased their supply of cruise missiles in the theater. The Iranians likely also have a few surprises up their sleeves, none of them being aircraft.

    The skies west of Mosul and on the Syria border and beyond are likely about to get really crowded.

  15. RobinG says:
    @E. A. Costa

    “….US intervention in Syria with an attack on Raqqa….”

    Killigula has promised. She mentioned it twice in the last debate.

  16. @No Second Israel

    I think it is you who not only don’t get it but show an almost psychotic lack of self-insight. I have written that Iraq, as presently constituted, is an artificial creation of Western imperialism deliberately designed to be unstable by amalgamating a congeries of racial, ethnic, and religious groups who cannot and will not live together peacefully. You say I am wrong and then go into a rant suggesting that you have precisely the animosities towards one of those groups – the Kurds – about which I am concerned. I suspect that if you were able to wreak the havoc you evidently intend for the Kurds, you’d then want to move on to wipe out the next racial/ethnic/religious group on your list. You are a perfect example of why partition would be the best bet for the peoples of Iraq.

    • Replies: @No Second Israel
  17. @Jus' Sayin'...

    {Iraq, as presently constituted, is an artificial creation of Western imperialism..}

    This garbage has been said deliberately by the war criminals, Kissinger, Gelb as well as Zionist ‘public intellectual’ impostors like Noam Chomsky for the interest of criminal Zionist Jews.
    This is ONLY people of the region to take decision NOT the criminals and Fake ‘intellectuals’ backing the criminal plan of US – Israel – Britain, an axis of evil.
    They have staged 9/11 to frame Muslims to bring American dummies on board to destroy Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Egypt and later Iran. Watch General Clark’s video who said: seven countries in 5 years. Only the liars and criminals deny this very fact. Watch Denis Gelb, a Zionist jew, responsible for the partition of Iraq under phony ‘federation’ at the Charlie Show who with NO SHAME told the racist Rose that we can use ‘ethnic and religious divide to control the situation in Iraq- DIVIDE and RULE ‘ to understand how criminal these racists are. Only destruction of these criminals and their territories can stop their criminal plan. How many centuries are you going to let these racists invade, massacre and rob you? Look at Africa, Asia and ME. Billions of dollars has been stolen from Iraq, Libya, Russia, Iran, and other countries by the criminals in Washington. The world must act against these criminal racist NOW.

    They place their stooges like Obama, Clinton to carry out their plan which requires massacring millions of Muslims, burning their infants and children and making millions more as refugees to be killed in western ‘democratic’ countries so the Jewish criminal tribe can erect ‘greater Israel’. Get out NOW.

    We never allow erection of the Second Israel in our region. First transfer your criminal tribe into New York and then stop spreading your crimes against humanity. People of the region know who is the fifth column helping the enemies, the apartheid entity and their allies, the criminal Americans and former British colonial power run by the Zionist Rothschild family.

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