The end of the Mosul game: a new beginning for Iraq or a perfect storm to renew the sectarian conflict?

2017/06/01 (00:01 PM) - Number of readings: 245 - Number (3938)

Eric Davis *(OPED)

Translation / Ahmed Zubaidi

How will the defeat of an organization in Mosul affect Iraq? Will the expulsion of the organization from the city reshape Iraqi politics or a new wave of sectarianism? Unfortunately, the current political and economic conditions do not bode well for the post-Mosul Iraq.

The former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has created many problems that will face Iraq after a duel. It is known that Maliki's sectarian policies during his second term as prime minister from 2010 until his disqualification in 2014, marginalized the Sunni Arab population in Iraq (and Iraqi Kurds), which explains to the extent Big Why did large segments of the population of Mosul sympathize with the chattering elements when they took over the city in June 2014.

The heroic efforts of the Iraqi army, with the support of the Kurdish Peshmerga in the Kurdistan region and the federal police, to liberate Mosul are about to be undermined by political machinations in Baghdad. This involves the complicity of the Iranian government, which is working behind the scenes to establish a dominant political center in Iraq.

Maliki has facilitated the expansion of Iranian influence as part of his efforts to return to power. He has helped in this process to escalate differences among the Sunni political elite in Nineveh and Anbar provinces and the political imbalance in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

When the low oil revenues are added to this poisonous mix, the enormous funds needed to rebuild the cities of Mosul and Anbar are already a serious problem. Complaints by the Anbarians that they have not received their promised reconstruction funds are accompanied by accusations that some funds have been stolen by corrupt politicians, which do not bode well for the future. Although al-Maliki has effectively blocked all reform efforts, the authority of Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi is declining as he loses influence over Maliki and his Iranian allies.

While the Obama administration did not view Iraq as a major foreign policy priority, at least some effort was made to confront sectarianism and maintain some "soft power" policies. For example, USAID and the State Department funded education projects. The lack of interest in the Trump administration in Iraq, other than helping it fight against a da'ash, suggests that Iran and its followers in Iraq - al-Maliki and the Iranian-armed factions - have the freedom to move forward with sectarian politics.

And because there are few forces working to prevent the spread of sectarian tensions, what awaits Iraq is more instability. In this context, terrorist forces will continue to find fertile ground for the continued recruitment of dissatisfied elements into Iraqi society. Thus we can predict the growing strength of terrorist groups in Iraq that will exploit the rise of sectarianism.

Terrorist activity will be reflected in continued suicide bombings in Iraqi cities, targeted killings of Shi'ites and secular forces, especially in Baghdad, and gang attacks on police stations, military bases, government departments and efforts to recruit disgruntled Sunni Arabs. Continued political instability will reinforce corruption in State institutions and the lack of improved social services.

Since the beginning of its offensive to restore Mosul in the fall of 2016, the Iraqi army has achieved significant social and political assets in Mosul and throughout Iraq as a result of its efforts to reduce civilian casualties and thus increase casualties, , And treat the residents of the liberated areas with respect. A comprehensive strategy of national reconciliation is needed to ensure a staunch defeat in Mosul to prevent the return of the organization again.

At the same time, Nuri al-Maliki is trying to return to power by strengthening his ties with Iran and the armed factions he supports. He has also built a network of strong economic and financial interests that also depend on relations with Iran.

As oil prices fell, relations between the customer and the client were damaged. Maliki's ability to provide financial opportunities for politicians associated with Iran to bring other sources of funding to him as well as to establish closer ties with the Islamic Republic, and the establishment of a wide network of beneficiaries in Iraq, and give priority to the economic and commercial interests of Iran in Iraq. For example, he did nothing to protect the agricultural sector in Iraq.

Iraq's agriculture sector declined much before the US invasion, weakened by UN sanctions in the 1990s and total neglect of Saddam Hussein's regime. As soon as the Coalition Provisional Authority canceled subsidies to Iraqi agriculture in August 2003, and using the argument that the state has no business to support agriculture (a compensatory assumption given the US government's extensive support to US farmers), agriculture in Iraq is unable to Competition with Syrian and Iranian imports in particular of fruits and vegetables.

When Maliki was prime minister, it was often questioned why Maliki preferred Iranian imports to Iraqi products. One of the areas for this was the bricks industry used in construction, an industry whose origins date back to antiquity. However, Maliki ordered the import of Iranian bricks, which seriously undermined the economic feasibility of the production of Iraqi bricks. Later, it became clear that Maliki had already wanted to develop his economic relations with Iran.

Although al-Maliki was at the forefront of politicians who defend the de-Baathification policy, he focused on former Baathists whom he considered his enemies, while he allied himself with other Baathists when he found such alliances in his favor. Thus, his sectarian policies are clearly selective and designed to enhance his political and financial interests.

Maliki's policies were bad enough when he was prime minister, but Iraq can not bear another blow after the completion of the expulsion of Dahesh from Mosul and the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar.

First, because the costs of reconstructing Mosul, Falluja, Ramadi and other cities and towns already exceed Iraq's funding capacity. However, financial and administrative corruption in state institutions continues unabated. Iraq can not lose any funds it can mobilize for reconstruction efforts.

Secondly, the inhabitants of the areas occupied by them were subjected to significant shocks. Iraq does not have the mental cadres and institutions capable of treating even a few of those who suffer from a wide range of problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder. If the federal government in Baghdad fails to promote national reconciliation, the task of addressing the psychological problems of the population of liberated areas will be more difficult.

Thirdly, the entire educational system in areas previously controlled by the former needs reconstruction, not only materially, but also in terms of curricula that will promote national reconciliation. Teachers need new curricula and teaching plans to address anxiety, distrust and fear that the future may bring to their students. Efforts to promote trust and reconciliation will remain superficial if the federal Government pursues sectarian policies

Perhaps most important is the creation of new jobs for the homeless, many of whom do not have a place to work to return to. Thousands of small businesses have been destroyed, which has prevented many Iraqis from working in areas controlled by a hasty organization.

Maliki's fingerprints can be seen in opposition to the contract with an American company, Olive Group, to repair and operate Highway 1, which runs from Baghdad to Amman through Anbar province. This new project would make the highway a safe route, and while the peaceful times were on, this highway would generate revenues of about $ 1 billion per month.?

However, Iran has mobilized its political supporters, including the armed factions it funds, to oppose a project that would create thousands of jobs in the construction sector in Anbar. Iran is concerned that the 25-year-old Ebadi government concession will create significant US influence in Iraq.

Abadi believes that the project will help economic development, while there is no cost to Iraq. The highway project No. 1 is just one of many indicators on how to undermine the sectarian policy of economic growth and political stability in Iraq.

Are there political forces in Iraq that could prevent Maliki from promoting his agenda?
The coalition led by Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, is the only strong movement that opposes Maliki and a coalition of state law. Muqtada al-Sadr himself has served as an Iraqi national figure and has established contacts with Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites, as well as the classes that form the social base of his movement. However, Sadr does not have the support of Iran or many members of the political elite.

What is needed is a national dialogue on national reconciliation. The convening of a national conference bringing together politicians, clergy, civil society activists, academics, youth and tribal leaders is critical to restoring the confidence needed to rebuild Iraq.

This conference will send an important symbolic message to all segments of Iraqi society that a new social and political model is on the political agenda.
Does the Trump Administration have an interest in urging the Iraqi government to pursue the national reconciliation agenda?

It is not clear whether Trump himself is aware of or wants to urge the Iraqi government in this direction, but a member of his security team, National Security Advisor General McMaster, is certainly aware of the urgent need not to see the military defeat of Mosul, The United States in Iraq.

Hopefully, General McMaster will educate Trump on how to avoid grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. The Bush administration was responsible for creating political instability through its conflicting policies after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. For its part, the Obama administration was guilty of negligence.

The time has come for the United States to pursue a policy in Iraq that will help it achieve positive results. Dasch's military defeat offers such an opportunity. Is Trump's management eligible to do so?

* Professor of Celtic Science at Rutgers University