Iraq: The end of the war against ISIS and what can go wrong

As Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of the war against ISIS, any reasons for worries that this is a premature announcement and in your opinion what’s next for Iraq? Read few comments.

Feisal al-Istrabadi, Professor of Practice, Founding Director, Center for the Study of the Middle East, University of Indiana, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations (2004–2007)

While the last territory in Iraq occupied by ISIL has been liberated, we cannot say that all ISIL members have quit Iraq. Their continued presence in Iraq will be consequential, as ISIL metamorphoses from a quasi-state to a classical terrorist group, able from time to time to carry out attacks in Baghdad and other places.

The more difficult task, more difficult than the military operations, will be the reconstruction of an integrated polity. This will involve reconciliation and re-enfranchisement of disaffected groups around a shared albeit nascent Iraqi identity.

Barin KayaogluAssistant Professor of World History, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Writer and Editor for Al-Monitor

From a military point of view, Abadi’s statement is accurate. The area ISIS controls is now less than 5% of Iraq’s landmass and ISIS in Iraq is now fully isolated from Syrian territory. As a military-political force, ISIS is finished in Iraq.

From a counter-terrorism point of view, however, the group may continue to inflict damage to the Iraqi state and Iraqi civilians.What’s next for Iraq will depend on two things:

– Negotiations (if they happen) between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

– When and how Iraq will hold the next federal elections and how well Abadi will perform. For the foreseeable future, Dr. Abadi will strengthen his rule. Whether he could maintain a sustainable coalition and whether he could put stricter controls on PMU (integrate them into Iraq’s national security or disband them).

James M. DorseySenior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University

Al-Abadi is probably correct in the sense that the Islamic State no longer controls any Iraqi territory. That does not necessarily mean the end of the war. The likelihood is that the Islamic State will group and operate in future more as a terrorist group rather than a state. The degree to which Iraq is affected will depend on the degree to which Sunni Muslims feel that they have a stake in post-Islamic State Iraq.

James  LutzProfessor of Political Science, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

I think the claim of victory is premature.  ISIS may be militarily defeated on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, but it has demonstrated its ability to launch or inspire terrorist attacks in many parts of the world.  There is no reason to anticipate that these attacks will not continue.  Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were driven out of Afghanistan, but that defeat hardly spelled the end of Al Qaeda as an organization.  Al Qaeda evolved into more of a network of associated groups and the global jihad followed.  There is every reason to expect individuals affiliated with ISIS to continue the struggle in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere.  Iraq will continue to be a prime target since the Sunni Arab population is likely to be disaffected and unhappy with an inferior position.  ISIS was able to take advantage of this disaffection in the past, and it is unlikely to change in the future.  The shared experience of the battles in Afghanistan set the stage for Al Qaeda as a global terrorist organization and threat, and the shared experience of the battles in Syria and Iraq will very likely set the stage for ISIS to continue as a global terrorist organization and threat.

Ahmed Salah HashimAssociate Professor of Strategic Studies, Deputy Coordinator in the Military Studies Programme, The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University

Iraq has a lot to resolve before it could declare Isis destroyed, moreover, don’t underestimate the international community’s stupidity in helping revive it by ill judged actions: Jerusalem issue, Arab countries promoting sectarian war against ShiaFirst, Iraq, the Kurds are in a cage right now and are content to stay in their enclave as long as Baghdad doesn’t push them further. The issue is the disgruntled Sunni community which Baghdad has to come to an accommodation with over resources and power sharing, maybe even autonomy. The Sunni minority in Iraq had not been averse to cutting off its nose to spite its face and could support extremism again despite the pitfalls of going down that road again, however they can fall back on the Sunni Arab countries to rein in Shia Iraq and Iran. Finally, given the stunning collapse of much of the Arab world brought on by the mistakes of its leaders and foreign machinations Isis has plenty of opportunity to continue making mischief thru terrorism but not through a Caliphate.


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