How Mosul’s recapture significant for Iraq?

Alwaght- late in January 2015, the Iraqi army forces have advanced in Miqdadiyah in Diyala province, taking all of the ISIS-held areas out of control of the terror group. As the progresses kept being made, the Iraqi army as well as the country’s Public Mobilization Forces have launched an operation in early March 2015, aiming at retaking control of the city of Tikrit, the center of Salahaddin province. Beating ISIS terror organization and recapturing the city of Tikrit in early March was of significance from three aspects.

First, for the first time the Iraqi government has managed to inflict a huge loss on the terrorist group. Second, the Public Mobilization Forces have been recognized as one of the most important Iraqi forces battling ISIS. Third, after these victories, the Iraqi army has set as its priority the liberation operation of Nineveh province and the city of Mosul from ISIS’ hold as an ultimate blow to the terrorists in Iraq.

But short after recapture operation of Tikrit, ISIS’ militants have launched a massive offensive, intending to take the city of Ramadi, the center of Anbar province, succeeding in capturing the city on March 17, 2015. Only ten days after Ramadi fell to ISIS’ forces, the Iraqi army has begun, on March 27, its operation to regain control of the city. The Iraqi forces’ action for liberation of Ramadi has met a failure, however. The Iraqi military has since announced setting in motion several steps to recapture the ISIS-held city.

As the process went on, the last effort for regaining control of Ramadi was begun on December 22, 2015, led by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, as the country’s commander-in-chief. In a very short time, only within the span of a week, on December 28, the Iraqi forces managed to take Ramadi fully back from ISIS’ terror fighters.

Re-controlling Ramadi by Iraqi army was considered as a triumph and a prelude for later full defeat of ISIS in the whole of Iraq. Following Ramadi’s recapture, the liberation of Mosul has come up as the military priority of the central Iraqi government. Now the dominant talk is about regaining the control of Mosul and the political significance of the recapture operation of the city for Iraq’s political factions. This analysis aims at bringing in spotlight the dimensions of significance of Mosul, its liberation and its impacts on the Iraqi prospective political equations. The overarching aspects of Mosul’s significance in the Iraqi political scene could be examined and analyzed in the following four levels:

Geo-economic significance

To put it in a simple way, geo-economics means the influence of the economic factors on the domestic, regional or global environment, or to put it another way, the impacts of the economic drives on the political decision makings as well as the internal, regional and international rivalry. Regarding the geo-economic importance of Mosul for the Iraqi political parties, it can be asserted that the city is home for rich reserves of minerals, including oil, which is seen as the main source of power and at the same time it is a factor fanning tensions and conflicts inside the country. In terms of water resources, having its famous dam, Mosul is observed as the main source supplying different parts of the country with water.

Also, from agricultural aspect, Mosul is one of the most significant resources meeting the country’s food needs and this is because of its rich soil and adequate rainfalls. Furthermore, in Iraq the city of Mosul is famous for its industries. It is renowned for its fabrics industries, linen production, husbandry, grains and oil production. Therefore, due to its profitability, liberation of Mosul could have a remarkable impact on improving the critical conditions of the Iraqi economy.

Geostrategic significance

Nineveh province’s Mosul is also of great geostrategic importance. The geostrategy sheds light on the relations between the strategy and geographical elements. In fact, geostrategy is a study of the strategic elements of geographical environment in regional and global levels. It also examines the governments’ political decision makings and the mutual influences of the countries regionally and internationally, and in the politics of power. The importance of Mosul for the self-proclaimed ISIS’ caliphate is that it plays the role of a linking ring between Syria and Iraq to facilitate transfer of forces.

The geostrategic significance of liberation of Mosul for Iraq’s central government and for the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s government in military terms is that Mosul is part of the disputed areas in Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution and through its recapture the Kurdistan region’s Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army forces could engage in a serious military cooperation formally for the first time in a united anti-ISIS front.

Defeating ISIS in this region would mean a strategic control of the central government as well as the Kurds on the linking ring of the terrorist forces with Syria. It could put an end to presence of ISIS in Iraq. Also, it could promise cooperation and military interactions between the Kurds and Iraq’s army in the future.

Geo-cultural significance

Geo-culture actually means studying the culture in a geographical environment. Accordingly, it could be said that culture is a matter that affects the life environment and the geography, as it severely receives influence from both of them. Once we seek paying attention to Mosul from this window, we have to see how much of the city’s cultural backgrounds have received effects from its geographical backgrounds. Being home for peaceful co-existence of different Iraqi ethnic groups and races, including the Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the Turkmen, Assyrians, Christians and the Jewry, Mosul is of great importance in the country’s political future from a geo-cultural dimension.

It is very necessary that Iraq’s central government and the government of Kurdistan region, as two major forces having the largest role in political administration of Mosul, count on the diversified identity grounds so that they could prevent ethnical and sectarian conflicts in the city.

Political significance

The Nineveh province and the city of Mosul, as second largest province and city respectively, are of considerable significance and consequences for the political scene’s players of the power in Iraq. The political activities are extraordinarily important for different Iraqi political parties. A constructive cooperation between all of Iraqi political sides, particularly the Sunni and Shiite Arabs along with Kurds, could pave the way for guaranteeing sustainable stability in the country.

However, during the past months, some of Sunni Arabs have said that after liberation of Mosul, they would declare Nineveh province a federal region. They have come strongly against involvement of the Public Mobilization Forces in the process of retaking the city from the terrorists. Such an approach by the Sunni Arabs could bring many negative repercussions for the Iraqi political prospects.

All in all, it could be said that, without doubt, Mosul could have an extraordinary significance in Iraq’s political future. The way the political parties, especially Sunni and Shiite Arabs with the Kurds, deal with recapture of Mosul and the city’s political and administrative future could have principal role in determining Iraq’s upcoming equations. Should each of these groups highlights its own identity and emphasizes on divisive points, an outbreak of a comprehensive internal crisis could be envisioned. But if the aspect of identity diversity is highlighted by these three sides, and there would be an appropriate coordination of the Sunnis, the Shiite and the Kurds, we can foresee a smooth process of transition to national unity and political stability in Iraq. Actually, Mosul’s liberation could on the one hand be a factor for unity and collaboration and on the other hand it could be a drive for division between Iraq’s holders of power.

By Alwaght