Since Iraqi troops seized back Mosul last month, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been reduced to the area around Raqqa in Syria. Predominantly Kurdish forces are attempting to take the city, protected by Western airpower. Authorities estimate the number of Islamist fighters has dwindled from the thousands to the hundreds.
As soon as the caliphate falls, governments will face another challenge: the reconstruction.
Repairs to basic infrastructure in Mosul alone could cost up to $1 billion, according to the United Nations.
Iraq’s Ministry of Planning puts the long-term cost of rebuilding Mosul at $10 billion. That includes repairing the damage from the fighting as well as the deliberate destruction caused by the Islamic State.
Given Iraq’s history of corruption and mismanagement of public funds, the final figure could be much higher. And that’s just Mosul. Read more
Catalans, Kurds, Given No Other Choice, Announce Referendums
Both the Catalans and Iraq’s Kurds have announced independence referendums this week over the objections of their central governments.
The two might seem a world away. Catalans have virtually no security concerns. The Kurds are waging a war on two fronts: one against Turkey to the north and another against the self-proclaimed Islamic State to the south.
As David Downing reported here on Sunday, Mosul could make a quick economic recovery once it is entirely liberated from the self-declared Islamic State by Iraqi government forces.
Not only is the city, once Iraq’s second largest, a hub for northern Iraqi industry and trade; it’s also situated close to major oil and natural gas reserves. The potential for further economic expansion could be close at hand. Read more
Eastern Mosul, situated on the left bank of the Tigris, has been fully liberated and a sense of normalcy is returning there. The first schools recently reopened, giving some 16,000 children access to education again. Residents are cleaning and clearing the streets.
Western Mosul, on the right bank of the river, remains under Islamic State control. Read more
There are some 100,000 troops involved in the conquest (or reconquest, depending on your perspective) of Mosul. On the surface, the battle is meant to restore the Iraqi government to its full writ; a Baghdad-united Shia and Sunni realm, a nation state on the way to functionality. In other words, a normal country.
Careful observation reveals a more wretched future. The Islamic State may be doomed, but that hardly means peace for Iraq. There are too many who want a piece of this particular pie.
Many players there are. Let’s start with the greatest of powers, who define the broadest outlines of geopolitics in the Middle East. Read more
What the Upcoming Battle of Mosul Tells Us About the Iraqi State
As battles go, it was a real shocker: less than 1,500 Islamic State fighters defeating perhaps 30,000 Iraqi police and troops. In the course of six days, from June 4 to June 10, 2014, IS militia conquered Iraq’s second largest city using little more than suicide bombers and pickup trucks. They should have been butchered: Iraq’s troops were well-equipped and theoretically well-trained by the Americans. Should have, yet weren’t; instead of victory, Iraq lost its biggest battle since the American invasion in 2003.
It taught us a lot about Iraq, about how states develop and how quickly they can unravel.
Now Iraqi forces gather for the counterattack. From the ashes of the upcoming battle, we’ll learn even more. Read more
Can We Now Finally Bury the “Bad Intelligence” Myth?