The root causes of Iraq’s civil war involve the sectarian policies of previous Iraqi governments and the failure of the Iraqi political system to establish power-sharing arrangements, argues Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US Ambassador in Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN. If Iraq does not address these underlying issues then some successor of ISIS will reemerge even if the group is defeated in Mosul, he writes for The National Interest:
It is critical to address the longer-term challenges so they don’t exacerbate Iraq’s terrorism and extremism problem. Resolving these issues, notably the balance between the center and the regions, is key to ending the civil war in Iraq. An all-encompassing national compact among Iraqis will not be easy because it will require elaborate agreements on power-sharing at the center, and federalization, confederation or decentralization among local communities. Still, the conflict will persist in the absence of such agreements.
A successful campaign in Mosul has the potential to be an important milestone in the process of reconciliation, but only if the post-campaign period is given due attention, including issues of local governance, adds Khalilzad, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance NGO:
There are significant disagreements on how Mosul’s governance should be organized. The current thinking in Baghdad envisions governor Nawfal Hammadi and the provincial council assuming leadership in Ninewa, assisted perhaps by representatives of the central government and the Kurdish regional government. Whether this formula will be accepted and supported by Ninewa’s populace remains to be seen. There is also the question of whether Kurdish and minority-dominated districts of Ninewa will seek to become provinces of their own and whether they will be given the freedom to choose between joining the Kurdistan Region and staying as part of an autonomous Ninewa federal region.