Some residents of recently liberated Mosul fear the Iraqi Army may abandon them once again in the face of ISIS, Loveday Morris of The Washington Post reports.
As the battle for Mosul continues to rage in the western part of the city, the liberated areas of the east may become a case study for the day after the terrorist group is defeated.
The Iraqi army continues to provide security for the eastern half but their presence could be reduced after the city is fully retaken. The owner of a smoke and pool lounge that re-opened after ISIS was rid from the eastern half of the city hired a lookout to watch for suspicious activity because he is afraid of suicide bombers.
“I was very nervous. We still don’t have full trust in the army,” the owner Faris al-Abdali told The Post. He recalled the Iraqi Army’s abandonment of Mosul in 2014 when ISIS first stormed the city. The memory is a bitter one for the nearly 2 million Iraqi’s left to be ruled under ISIS.
The U.S. has since spent billions of dollars training, advising, and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces to professionalize the force. The U.S. had little idea the Iraqi Army was in such bad shape in 2014 after the Obama administration withdrew all U.S. troops from Iraq. Much of the Army’s inability to fight ISIS stemmed from sectarian purges of the military by Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.
Maliki’s successor, Haidar Al-Abadi, will likely soon oversee the rebuilding of Mosul. This process is likely to be fraught with sectarian tensions that no longer have the unifying enemy of ISIS to keep them at bay. Abadi may even pursue this process without the help of the U.S.
Abadi declared Friday that U.S. combat troops should not remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. He then moderated his comments saying that the only U.S. troops who should remain would provide training assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to maintain “full readiness” in case of “future security challenges.”
“The challenge of Mosul and Nineveh is the considerable number of ethnic groups, religious sects, tribes and other elements that make up the province,” retired Army General David Petraeus warned as the Battle for Mosul began nearly 7 months ago. The biggest challenge Petreaus warned is “to ensure post-conflict security, reconstruction and, above all, governance that is representative of and responsive to the people.” He warns, “Failure to do so could lead to ISIS 3.0.”
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