The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the course of an American operation can only harm the Islamic State. Not only did Baghdadi claim religious authority, which failed to protect him from the Americans; he was also, far more than al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, a field commander, issuing orders to subordinates on the ground on which they fought, and directing his organisation in war. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Mosul
All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading
Iraq’s Elections Showcase the Wonder of Democracy
Elections are wonderful things. Despite the calculated duplicity which campaigning for the vote requires, and despite their association with politicians, elections remind voters – and observers around the world – that ordinary people, individually and together, can affect the futures of the societies in which they live. Continue reading
ISIS, Insurgent and Resurgent
The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.
After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading
Covering the Ground
Review – Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars by Jonathan Spyer
As the violence of the Syrian civil war increased, and as the Islamic State group (IS) crossed the Iraqi border, it was clear that the wars in these two countries would become the essential conflict of our times. Continue reading
Iraq’s Alliances Uncertain Ahead of Elections
As Iraq begins recovering from its war against the Islamic State (ISIS), attention is shifting towards the country’s legislative elections, scheduled for May, and the possible political alliances that could emerge ahead of the vote. Continue reading
Whatever else he is, Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, is at the very least appropriately named. The élan with which he recently wrote about the American campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) would be worthy of the protagonist of any Hollywood Western. Continue reading
Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.
This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading
Iraqi Kurds See Fortunes Reversed after Referendum
In less than a month the fortunes of Iraqi Kurdistan, its leaders and inhabitants have reversed.
Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence and optimism appeared to reign. The referendum, however, brought complications and immediate repercussions and illuminated systemic problems within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), including political and economic dysfunction and general social malaise. Continue reading
What Will Become of Iraq’s Hawija after ISIS?
The northern Iraqi city of Hawija represents the last Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold in the country. After the gruelling battle for Mosul and the rapid victory at Tal Afar, the Iraqi state is on the verge of winning its immediate war against ISIS. Hawija and the nearby area are surrounded by Iraq state- and Kurdish-controlled territory, forming what might appear to be a tight seal. Continue reading