Monday, March 20, 2017

Donald Trump meets with Iraqi Prime Minster Abadi, assures support in the fight against ISIS.

Iraqi Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi. AP.

Donald Trump has met with Iraqi Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi and gave him assurances that the US would support him in the fight against ISIS. AP. Though he did not offer details, Abadi said that the Trump administration would accelerate support. Abadi has not seen Trump's plan on Iraq and noted that he had his own plan to eliminate ISIS from Iraq. Abadi also claimed that ISIS was on the backfoot and their main base in Iraq, Mosul, is near liberation. 

My Comment:
A fairly good meeting for both Trump and Abadi. Trump was able to talk to a world leader and reassure Abadi that we are still on his side. After the Barack Obama presidency, which allowed ISIS to take over a decent chunk of the country, that reassurance was needed. Obama didn't really care about Iraq after the withdrawal until ISIS had already taken back Mosul and even then he didn't do much to fight them after. 

Abadi is probably concerned with what happens after Mosul is liberated. I don't know if he should be that optimistic. Though the battle is going well, I don't know if the city will be liberated this spring. It may take a bit longer, though I would be shocked if it was still in the hands of ISIS by the end of the year. It will fall, the only question is when. 

After Mosul falls, ISIS will still have some minor outposts in Iraq with Tal-Afar being the most famous and powerful. It's far from the only place though as ISIS still controls many small villages and towns in the western part of the country. 

The big question is if the US will continue to help the Iraqis after the liberation of Mosul. After the city falls, ISIS's power base will be broken but they will be far from defeated. Remember, before Mosul fell, ISIS's position in Iraq was essentially the same as they are now. They only controlled a few small towns but they still had a lot of area in Syria left to retreat too. If we don't back the Iraqis it's very possible that ISIS could return. 

Trump's main goal is to assure that ISIS will not rise again like a phoenix after the battle of Mosul ends. Part of that goal is to assure that Abadi that he isn't going to flake like Barack Obama did and I think he accomplished that today. 

The other thing he needs to do is make sure that he keeps his promise to support the Iraqi regime. Mosul largely fell because the US government didn't give the Iraqi military some backbone with airstrikes and other support. If Trump does keep forces in the region to offer up air support and keeps some troops on the ground, he can make sure that ISIS doesn't rise from the ashes yet again. 

He also needs to make sure that ISIS doesn't have anywhere to retreat too. Beating ISIS in Iraq doesn't mean much if Syria is there to act as a backup base. If ISIS still controls Raqqa and still has Dier Ez Zor under siege, there is little to gain by defeating ISIS in Iraq. They will just cross the border again if they recover. 

The good news is that ISIS is under attack on all fronts. Everyone in the region is working together to fight them. Though none of these factions have similar goals, they all are fighting ISIS. Not only are the Iraqi's fighting ISIS in the East, the Syrian government is fighting them in the west and at Dier Ez Zor, the Kurds, Turks and Americans are advancing in the Raqqa area and even the Russians are bombing them. 

There is a question if Iraq's government will survive even after ISIS is defeated. ISIS has united the various factions in Iraq against them, but once they are gone, the various factions could start fighting again. The biggest divide is Sunni vs Shiite. That divide was so bad that many Sunni Muslims welcomed ISIS with open arms just because they aren't Shia Muslims. Even after ISIS is gone, that divide is still there... 

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