Even with ISIS losing ground–the Caliphate has just been ousted from strategically important Manbij in Syria by, mainly, the local Kurds–the prospects for a serious peace in Iraq (and Syria) may be pretty dim:
With ISIS on the run, new wars could erupt in Iraq
TUZ KHURMATU, Iraq — The front line south of this bleak and dusty town looks much as it did two years ago, when the Islamic State was the enemy and controlled a village less than a mile away.
Now, however, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters holed up behind sandbags and barbed wire are peering across the line at Shiite militias, ostensibly their allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
Whether their alliance will outlast the Islamic State is in question. The militants’ defenses have been crumbling fast across Iraq. An offensive for the city of Mosul, the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq, is likely by the end of the year, U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials say.
If the battle goes well, the defeat of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq, at least in terms of the territory it controls, is on the horizon.
And so, too, are new problems — and potentially new conflicts. For the past two years, Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi army forces, Shiite militias and some Sunni ones have largely overlooked long-standing differences to confront the menace facing them. But their feuds and grievances — over vital issues such as the distribution of power, land, money and oil — have not been resolved.
The manner in which the war has been fought — by an assortment of locally armed groups with often competing agendas — has compounded the existing problems with new and potentially more intractable disputes. Among them are the questions of who will govern the areas vacated by the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS, and how.
“The moment there is what you might call victory against ISIS, then you are up against all the problems that caused this crisis in the first place,” said Yezid Sayigh of the Carnegie Middle East Center…
More on the players and their agendas follows. Recall that the Canadian military is deeply involved in the campaign, even if no longer actually fighting and that our forces on the ground act largely on behalf of the Kurds. How will that fit in if things start going blooey between the Kurdistan Regional Government–with its eye on independence–and Baghdad? Some clear and hard forward thinking is warranted. And by quite a few governments besides our own (oddly enough this story does not mention Canadian troops).
By the way the famous “who whom” (кто кого) is rather different from what most of us thought.