Iraq

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PorLander Michel 

Abogado – Internacionalista / Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara; Magíster en Derecho Internacional / Universidad de Leiden, Países Bajos. 

Correo electrónico: lmichel@miderainternational.co

This newest conflict in Iraq has transformed into, once again, a TV war with media showing western airstrikes supporting Iraq however there are no units with the combat elements of the army or the militias which leads one to speculate that not all is how it appears to be with the situation on the ground likely to be dire and far from an easy and fluid victory the news that has emerged or passed the veil of censorship apparently imposed by the Iraqi government only seems to confirm that the Iraqi forces and militias are unable, at present to project their force effectively throughout Iraq.

The Iraqi government, although it is taking steps aimed at weaning away its dependence on Western power and resources, in particular of air power, will not have the capacity to launch air campaigns on the scale of the US for the short-term which means that it will be, mostly, dependent on the US.

Iraq is against the participation of countries in the region targeting ISIS on its territory however, as it is unable to project air power or defend its sovereignty in the skies, at present, and for the following months, neighboring countries may continue to infringe it at will although, something of note, is that no mention has been made in the past weeks of continued air campaigns in Iraq by neighboring countries which leads one to believe that or they occur with the tacit agreement of the Iraqi government with a gentleman’s agreement not to disclose them or the US has firmly stated that no intervention, other than by Western nations, may occur in Iraq and neighboring countries have complied.

As regards the Kurds in Iraq and, given the support they have received from the West, they are likely to seek their independence in the future to the detriment of the Iraqi government. This would have grave consequences as the Kurds in Iraq would have no reason to defend Iraqi territory and thus, should ISIS counterattack, the Iraqi government will likely lose control of the North and West of the country and, in any case, will face a significant challenge reestablishing law and order. The significant upgrade in land combat abilities of the Kurds represents a mid-term possibility that independence be declared. The lack of a Kurdish air force would be offset by the fact that the US is unlikely to tolerate an air campaign or even a civil war that pitted the Kurds and the Iraqi central government although this should not be taken for granted.

At present it is likely that Iraq regain partial control of the country but retaking Mosul will not occur until such time as the Iraqi forces consolidate or unless there is a significant blow to ISIL in Syria (which seems very unlikely). What has emerged, in any case, is that Iraq is unable to impose its sovereignty without the West; what has happened in Iraq is likely a window on what is to pass in Afghanistan where weak institutions will be unable to cope with the onslaught of the Taliban and where the West will be less likely or inclined to support the Afghan government owing to shifting priorities this without forgetting the incredible tribal complexity which requires a gifted politician to form a strong and effective Afghan government as well as create economic opportunities for Afghans that are a viable alternative to fighting for the Taliban.

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