Defeating ISIS in Mosul will be in the interest of Sunni Arabs in general as much asit will be in the interests of Iran and Shiite Arabs in Iraq. The primary victims of this terrorist group have been the Sunni peoples and governments. Eliminating ISIS has become an international imperative agreed upon by the East and the West. There is no difference over the need to achieve a decisive military victory against ISIS, rather, the task of overseeing this has been entrusted to the US in Iraq and Russia and Syria. All indications suggest the military battle for Mosul, even if it may last a while, will end with the liberation of the city from the group. Crushing ISIS in Iraq will then weaken it in neighboring Syria. The overlap of the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields will keep them linked, meaning that there will be no solution to Iraq’s security without a similar solution in Syria and vice versa. Particularly so when major regional players such as Turkey and Iran are holding their cards close in the two key Arab nations, while the Kurdish element present in both countries remains a major point of either contention, harmony, convergence, or competition for the players. The battle for Mosul may be settled militarily in weeks, but the presence of so many opposing agendas for the aftermath portends complications down the road and could end one insurgency only to start another. Therefore, warnings regarding the political conduct of the Iraqi government are linked to its performance on the battlefield, and the extent to which it would allow the Iran-backed, Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Units to participate in the battle for Mosul and the possibility of using them to subdue the Sunnis in the largest Sunni city in Iraq.
The battle for Mosul could divert the world’s attention away from Aleppo, which has exposed Russia. This could relieve Moscow from having to remain in the limelight and Damascus from the push for accountabilityRaghida Dergham