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Will Mosul battle end war against ISIS?

Do these two battles of Mosul and Aleppo mark the end of the Iraqi war against ISIS and the Syrian civil war?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

As attention shifts toward the battle in the Iraqi city of Mosul, where the results of the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are almost predetermined, the Syrian city of Aleppo prepares for its fate after the Russians and the Iranians rejected international calls for a cease fire and the call to evacuate besieged people, whether civilians or armed men.

A few hundred members of the Free Syrian Army are stationed in Aleppo’s neighborhoods, along with fighters from other armed factions in addition to fighters from the al-Nusra Front, the terrorist organization which is fighting everyone. These are confronted by forces which for months now have resorted to the mass destruction of neighborhoods in an attempt to empty them out of their residents by either killing them or expelling them in order to prepare for the final battle and seize the most important city in Syria’s war.

Do these two battles of Mosul and Aleppo mark the end of the Iraqi war against ISIS and the Syrian civil war? I rule that out.

The two countries’ problem lies in the nature of the Syrian regime and the practices of the Iraqi regime. As a result of resuming marginalization and elimination, the cities of Mosul and Aleppo may be “cleansed” of armed men either through expulsion or murder, and we will later hear that these men are now present in other cities and provinces. The emergence of armed groups is not difficult considering the presence of two governing regimes which are incapable of changing and reforming.

The battles of Mosul and Aleppo are just two other wars in a long struggle that will not stabilize without a fair political project

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

This is a civil war which reflects the general situation and it’s not a war with foreign groups that can be easily gotten rid of. Arab Sunnis represent 20 percent of Iraq’s citizens while Sunnis altogether represent 40 percent of Iraq’s population. How can one get rid of 10 million citizens, or marginalize them?

In Syria, Sunnis represent 80 percent of the population, which is more than 20 million people. Even if five or 10 million are displaced, the rest are still a sweeping majority. Iraq’s parliamentarian system is more oriented toward sectarian governance and in the phase after the liberation of Mosul, it will end up diminishing Iraq’s territory and make it less stable.

Meanwhile, after purging Aleppo of most of its residents, and not just of armed men, the fighting will move to another city and the battles will continue because there is no political solution.

Political solution

The lack of a political solution is due to the Iranians’ insistence on holding on to the man responsible for all this bloodshed. They also hold on to Hezbollah as an indirect ruler in Syria’s neighbor Lebanon where the party has caused instability for the past 20 years. The difference is that Syria is a big country and, geographically speaking, it’s central. Its events influence its neighbors, like Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, on the racial, sectarian and partisan levels.

Let them prepare for celebrations in Iraq and Syria to rejoice over “liberating” Mosul and Aleppo. We are aware they will be short celebrations as the battles, alliances and the prosecutions of angry nationalists and global terrorists who benefit from fertile soil will resume and the tensions in the region will continue to exist.

Around Mosul, there is currently a huge siege that consists of multinational forces, generals who are excited to make television appearances, politicians who are competing to claim that the almost certain victory is thanks to them and international media outlets which know the results of the battle in advance and which, like the rest of the politicians, do not care about knowing what will happen later.

The battles of Mosul and Aleppo are just two other wars in a long struggle that will not stabilize without a fair political project.

This article was first published Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 24, 2016.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.