Sunday, June 19, 2016

Why defeating ISIS won't be the end of the problems for Iraq.

Shiite militiamen stand by a defaced portrait of Saddam Hussein near Fallujah. Reuters. 

Though ISIS has suffered major setbacks on the battlefield, their defeat won't be the end of problems for Iraq. Business Insider. With ISIS losing the city of Fallujah and with Iraqi forces threatening Mosul. Because of these battlefield losses, ISIS has changed focus from trying to take and hold territory. Instead they have begun to focus on terrorist attacks in areas they formerly controlled. These attacks on civilians, most of them Shiites, have enraged the Shiite militias. These militias have been accused of committing atrocities which have contributed to Sunni-Shiite tensions that allowed ISIS to rise in the first place. The Iraqi government is still crippled by corruption and incompetence. 

My Comment:
A good report about the problems that Iraq will face after ISIS is defeated. And it certainly looks like ISIS will lose most or all of the territory they have in Iraq. Though the battle for Mosul will be hard fought and will take months, if not years, it will fall in the end. And with Mosul gone ISIS's power base in Iraq will be gone. 

But even if ISIS is defeated in Mosul, they won't just give up. They will probably go underground again, like they did after their progenitor organization al-Qaeda in Iraq, was defeated during the Iraqi insurgency. Instead of taking territory, they will continue their terrorist attacks, biding their time until instability in Iraq allows them to attack again.

And even if we push ISIS out of Iraq, they will still have outposts throughout the world. I am guessing that Iraq will be liberated before Syria will be. Though ISIS in Syria is under pressure as well, they will still be able to use the country as a base, as they did during their original offensive into the country. And let's not forget that ISIS still has a presence in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. 

There is a major chance of ISIS rising from the ashes of defeat to once again threaten Iraq. The conditions are perfect for it. ISIS has indoctrinated a generation of youth in Iraq that have been raised to believe that Jihad is an acceptable thing and that Shiite Muslims are apostates deserving death. It will be very hard to deprogram these children, assuming Iraq is even in a position to try.

And even if ISIS is destroyed in Iraq, what they accomplished will be talked about for years. The were able to take over almost half the country and defied the most powerful country in the world. They pulled off major terrorist attacks and all but eliminated some of the last groups of non-Muslims in the country. In the future people will look back at what ISIS has done and use it as an inspiration. 

It's not like Iraq is doing much to ease sectarian conflicts. Though Iraq was able to keep the Shiite militias from attacking Fallujah proper, they have killed plenty of Sunni Muslims in the city. And this is not the first time that these militias have committed atrocities. When Tikrit was liberated due to these militias it soon devolved into an orgy of lynchings, arson, looting and murder. People have a long memory and I think that the Sunni Muslims will long remember what the Shiite militias have done.

The Iraqi government has an obvious pro-Shiite bias. Thanks to Nuri al-Maliki, reforms put into place during the American occupation that would have ensured Sunni representation were removed. Shiites dominate Iraq politically, and thanks to the influence of Iran, Sunni's are second class citizens in Iraq. 

I don't think that these problems will go away with the defeat of ISIS. Indeed, ISIS isn't the disease, they are a symptom of the rot in Iraqi government. They are paralyzed by incompetence, corruption and sectarian divisions. All of these things allowed ISIS to arise in the first place and if they are defeated on the battlefield, these problems will still remain,. There is a very good chance that ISIS will arise yet again after they are defeated. Or something even worse will replace them... 

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