MESOP ON TOP OF THE AGENDA: RETAKING MOSUL / RELEVANT SOURCES – AL JAZEERA – BLOOMBERG – AP – WASHINGTON POST – FOREIGN POLICY – THE ATLANTIC
U.S. Official Signals Mission to Retake Mosul
Iraqi and Kurdish forces are preparing for a mission to retake (AP) Mosul from ISIS, according to a U.S. Central Command official. The planned offensive is slated for April-May and will be led by twenty to twenty-five thousand Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers against an estimated two thousand ISIS fighters entrenched in the city. No decision (Bloomberg) has been made on what role U.S. troops might have during the operation. ISIS took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June of last year. Meanwhile, the United States and Turkey signed an agreement on Thursday to train and arm (Al Jazeera) Syrian opposition rebels combatting ISIS.
“Without their vital supply line, Islamic State operatives would be vulnerable in Mosul, which is increasingly isolated as Kurdish forces close in. They would also have to use alternative supply routes to Raqqa that meander through the harsh desert or expose them to dangers such as airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition or confrontations with Iraqi security forces,” writes Erin Cunningham in the Washington Post.
“The United States has long sought to help moderate Sunni rebels oust Assad from power in Syria’s four-year civil war, a conflict that helped give rise to the Islamic State and other militants frustrated with his government. That remains a major—and seemingly insurmountable—hurdle in the Islamic State’s defeat,” writes Kate Brennan in Foreign Policy.
“Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal,” writes Graeme Wood in the Atlantic.