After the Liberation of Mosul…Where to for ISIS? October 21, 2016 Analysis Translated by Sufyan Jan 12:45:42 21/10/2016 By Elijah J.Magnier Haidar Abadi, the Iraqi Prime minister, launched the battle to liberate Mosul and its country side from ISIS, which has been under ISIS control since July 2014, when the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, announced from inside the grand mosque of Mosul the establishment of the caliphate in Iraq and the Levant. Now however the organization faces complete annihilation in Iraq, especially that the last stronghold and major city under their control is besieged by the Iraqi security forces. The attack on Mosul was initiated from three main fronts, Eastern from Al-Hamadaniyyah, the North/East from Bashiqa, the Southern axis from Quair, and other secondary fronts to fully control the outskirts of the city and prevent any attempt by ISIS to flea Mosul into Syria. 40,000 Iraqi officers and volunteers were deployed, they include the Iraqi regular army, Kurdish forces, and the PMU. Commanders in the Iraqi army believe that the left part of the city will be easy to liberate, however the right side-according to intelligence information-will be more difficult this is down to two reasons, one being that large numbers of ISIS fighters are positioned in the old city, secondly larger numbers of civilians live in the old city. And so the beginning of the end for ISIS in Iraq is underway. During the early hours of the battle for the liberation of Mosul, Iraqi security forces were able to liberate several cities and towns including Al-Kubaiba, Al-Mekhlet, Al-Shurooq, Al-Hamidiyah, Ibn Nayf, Najmah, and Adla. ISIS withdrew under heavy artillery bombardment from French, and American forces, coupled with Iraqi aerial bombardment. Tens of thousands of leaflets were dropped to instruct Mosul residents to either leave the city through corridors secured by Iraqi forces, or to stay at home so as to avoid being targeted, since anything that moves in the streets of the city is a target. The ministry of Interior and telecommunications set up hotlines for residents to phone in and report the whereabouts and plans of ISIS members and fighters. Both Syria and Iraq fear that thousands of ISIS fighters escape from Mosul and enter into Syria through various desert routes, which ISIS knows and have laid plans to use, having known for a while now that they will be forced out of Mosul, sooner or later. If thousands of ISIS fighters find their way into Syria then they would pose a very serious problem to the SAA in Deir Ezzor, and the SAA at the outskirts of Palmyra. This kind of advantage would cause a shift in the balance of power, and would only prolong the war, indefinitely. Despite the diplomatic efforts in the Swiss city of Lausanne between Russia and the US to stop military operations in the Eastern part of Aleppo, a political solution to Syria seems highly unlikely. Breaking ISIS’ back in Mosul does not spell the end for them, rather only weakening the organization considerably, they will no longer be a state, their operations will be limited to planning terrorist attacks, and conducting hit and run operations against the Iraqi forces, whereas they will keep their capital in Syria, Raqqa, to prevent Assad and his allies from concentrating their efforts against the “moderate opposition” and the Jihadists. And so ISIS is still needed in Syria, this does not mean that ISIS is remotely controlled, rather they are purposefully being pushed out of Iraq into Syria to serve a political end of the current US administration, that is to preserve the status quo in Syria until the next administration comes into the oval office. Experts exclude the possibility of a negotiated settlement in Syria, this is down to the US’s refusal to separate the “moderate opposition” from the Jihadists of Al-Nusra a.k.a Jabhat Fath Al-Sham, if that happens then a war would erupt between the opposition and the Jihadists, the Jihadists would rightly see it as them being thrown to the wolves (Russia and the US). Today we can see that Jabhat Fath Al-Sham is much stronger, having incorporated 2000 fighters from Jund Al-Aqsa, which makes it more difficult to beat them. Each time the US administration maneuvers around an agreement to separate the “moderate opposition” from the Jihadists, the group finds new avenues of support that make them stronger. The other reason for keeping the various Jihadist groups in Syria is Russia’s presence in the Levant. And so ISIS and the Jihadists will remain and probably thrive so long as they are needed in Syria, Russia’s backyard, as the US’ policy dictate that they bleed Moscow and Tehran. The Jihadists and ISIS are needed for months and probably years to come. Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.