The importance of Mosul
Jordan Ryan | Thursday, November 17, 2016
The past week was, from a political perspective, nothing short of extraordinary. Americans experienced what seemed to be a constant shifting of public interest and media coverage. Our collective attention was focused on the wrap up of the presidential campaign, then moved to the election and now, after the greatest presidential upset in recent political memory, we are looking towards, among other issues, immigration and tax reform; the filling of important vacancies on the Supreme Court and other key cabinet level positions; the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act; the Trump spike in the nation’s stock market; and the new administration’s view of trade agreements such as NAFTA and defense alliances, including NATO. Relegated this week to page 3 or 4 of the newspaper or to the end of the nightly news is a report on the critical battle for Mosul City, Iraq, in what may well be a key turning point in the war against IS.
In June 2014, IS captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. IS continued to occupy and control Mosul over the next two years and the city now represents IS’s last stronghold in Iraq.
Mosul is a city of approximately 1.5 million people. Over the past 30 months, an estimated 60,000 city residents have died in what has become an urban war zone. The likelihood of a humanitarian disaster increases as Iraqi and U.S.-backed coalition forces move to dislodge IS from this key occupation area. Since the start of the Mosul campaign on Oct. 17, 2016, it is estimated that more than 48,000 people have fled the city. Those unable or unwilling to flee have, in many instances, become, in effect, hostages to IS and have unfortunately been subjected to unspeakable horrors at the hands of these terrorists. IS is reportedly responsible for the massacre of thousands of civilians and the terrorists are now using women and children as human shields. Christians and other religious minorities are facing genocide in the city as Mosul residents are running out of necessary food, water and medicine. They are barely holding onto life.
This is the cost of dislodging a brutal and literally suicidal enemy. When Mosul was taken by IS, the Iraqi government invited the U.S. armed forces to assess and assist in the effort to recover the territory occupied by the terrorist forces. Nine other nations have joined the United States by lending assistance to this effort with airstrikes or ground support.
The battle for Mosul may well define the future of IS in this region of the world. Despite misinformation being spread by IS, the terrorist organization is desperate and on the verge of collapse. As USA Today recently reported, “[Two years ago] the Islamic State looked invincible, while the Iraqi forces looked demoralized, poorly trained and ill-equipped. Today, Iraq’s military has a string of victories behind it and is on the verge of charging into Mosul, the militants’ last stronghold in Iraq. This time, the Islamic State is retreating and it is the Iraqi troops that look formidable.”
The people of Iraq have paid an enormous price to rid their country of the disease which is IS. The residents of Mosul presently are suffering as coalition forces attempt to drive out the last of the IS presence in the region. The United States must stand strong with the people of Iraq, our coalition allies and, in particular, those who remain in Mosul so that there is no doubt about our nation’s commitment to eradicating IS.
In the aftermath of what may be fairly described as a fascinating week of political developments, the suffering and importance of what is happening in Mosul has somehow gotten lost, or at least relegated, to a position of far less newsworthiness and attention. It is both unwise and morally inappropriate for us to lose sight of the critical importance of the battle for Mosul. It is imperative that President-elect Trump loudly and unequivocally supports the citizens of Mosul and the coalition forces who are seeking to defeat IS in Iraq. Though we are now buried in the rhetoric of post-election analysis and the speculation as to what direction the new administration may take, one thing is certain — we must not take our eye off the ball in our unwavering effort to ultimately destroy IS and in our commitment to support those who are assisting in that effort.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.