Once upon a time before this age of video games, cell phones and 24 hour continuous cable television, there were four television stations and they all went off around midnight to a hollow vapid medium pitch tone with the picture of an Indian in the background. This was a period in which if you were not outside playing and being active, if you were inside and not reading you were playing a game with your family of friends. Typically this was either in cards but mainly board games. One such board game which was one of my favorites was Risk. Made by Parker Brothers, Risk is a strategy board that has three main objectives: to control entire continents to get reinforcement armies, to protect and watch ones borders and to protect and defend against other neighboring armies/nations that could attack you and building up ones military on their own borders for defensive purposes.
It was a heated game and brought the best and worst out in most people whom played it, with each player accumulating and stacking up those little squares in anticipation of a possible impending attack. In risk, a player has the best chance of winning if the hold continents since this is the best way to increase reinforcements. Players often attempt to gain control of Australia early in the game, since Australia is the only continent that can be successfully defended via heavy fortification (continents with fewer borders are easier to defend).
The West of Mosul is the old city and from what I have been told, it will be difficult for anyone to go in and fight there – can’t drive Humvees or Tanks because the roads are too tight and thin and ISIS is going to put a stiff front against the U.S.- Iraqi coalition forces as they enter.
This doesn’t even include considering the post conflict environment in Mosul, which will be a very difficult path itself to navigate. I mean, you can’t remove 1.5 million Mosul residents for a few thousand ISIS militants and we can’t make the same mistakes we did by allowing Iraqi security forces to completely demolish everything in sight as we did in Fallujah, Ramadi or Tikrit (or it will set the same conditions that allowed ISIS to grow in the first place), unless it is the Obama Administration goal to push ISIS west into Syria. The danger of this however is that it will take a very long time to get ISIS out of Mosul and the civilians will suffer disproportionately.
How Mosul will be governed after or if ISIS leaves is another query. Has the Obama team thought about it – a city predominantly Sunni and Iraqi security forces predominately Shia? This will be a very extremely complicated task for we will approach this act as if it is a typical Western intervention and a typical Arab city. Unfortunately Mosul isn’t your average Arab city. It is a very multi-cultural city centered between Syria and Turkey. It is a very diverse city filled with Sunni, Shiite, Kurds, Christians. Taking one bank of the Tigris River will be easy, but to take the entire city, will be something that will take a long time. Which reminds me again, what the after plan is if and/or after Mosul falls? How will the US coalition deal with a large Iraqi Force, a large Kurdish force and the desire that Shia militia have to get in on the action? All which are paramount issues that worry the Turks (Sunni), who are as we speak training anti-ISIS fighters in the strategic town of Bashiqa and want to enter Mosul and engage in battle. They are vehemently against Shia militias taking part in any fighting in the city; for Erdogan has openly said he thinks Mosul should be a city for Sunni Turkmen, Sunni Kurds and Sunni Arabs.
Turkey already has troops in Iraq and they are not welcomed nor were invited by the Iraqi government. They are not very diplomatic because they claim that Mosul is a Turkish city while at the same time Kurds want autonomy in Iraq, especially Mosul and display even stronger and similar feelings as it pertains to in Norther Iraq.
Turkish military is also training Sunni tribes with the hope of keeping a migration from Mosul to Turkey from occurring. The Peshmerga (Kurds) are coming in from the east heading west to make sure they keep folk from going to Kurdistan and Shia militias are on the West to keep ISIS from going into Syria. Yes, this is a big old game of Risk.
And what of the U.S.? Well after getting rid of Saddam Hussein, they city still lacks consistent running water and consistent electricity due to the U.S. invasion as is the case for most of Iraq and the anti U.S. animosity remains high. For many Iraqis, the U.S. has not only failed to make life better than it was under Saddam Hussein, it has made daily living worse. Strangely, before ISIS took root in Mosul, it was touted as being more secure than Baghdad. Presently, ISIS has every vehicle, building, child, cat and dog rigged with explosives and if success is to be had in Mosul, it will be a street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house dog fight.
If America continues on this path of the feckless Obama-Clinton – Bush-Rumsfeld foreign policy approach, President Obama could be leaving his predecessor another Aleppo. Not only is the Iraqi government corrupt as all get out, none of the cats doing the fighting trust each other (U.S. military, Kurdish Peshmerga, Turks or Shia militias).
In all honesty, if Mosul is liberated, it will be the start of a bigger war and an excuse for the Obama administration to move into Syria which I believe is his true desire albeit we ALL know Washington hasn’t planned properly nor is ready for such an event (See Libya and Yemen). I may be wrong, but you tell me if the present administration, like the prior, has outlined any strategic goals or objectives for achieving such and dealing with the aftermath other than aerial bombardments? And if I am correct, it will be more wasting of the loot of the American people when our problems should be first and foremost on the table for solution finding regarding our struggling economy.
Mosul is problematic. Not only is there no central command, without the U.S., Kurds and Shia militias, the Iraqi Security Forces would never be able to take the city on their own and would probably run as they did when ISIS first entered Iraq. Add this to the tangible hatred between all involved, it would be highly unlikely for everybody, in particular when you throw the Turks in the mix, not to just end up shooting at each other. Even if this doesn’t manifest, what is consistent is that it will represent regardless of the outcome, more failed U.S. foreign policy and more dead bodies and destroyed communities since our only answer is to just give out weapons to whoever we decide to support, not based on logic nor the interest of the people living in the Middle east
And you can best believe if Hillary Clinton becomes the president elect, the D.C. neocon and neoliberal foreign policy establishment will be salivating for more U.S. intervention which would probably be in the form of a no-fly zone, that would not save anyone or help the people on the ground or get rid of ISIS, but rather cause more problems and maybe even a direct confrontation with Syria, Russia and Iran. But if I were optimist I would speculate that, we may get rid of ISIL in Mosul, eventually, but what will come next after them to fill the void is my concern.