TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A Moscow-based political commentator said Washington is trying to “overshadow” the crucial role the Islamic Republic of Iran played in the liberation of the northern city of Mosul from the clutches of the Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists.
"… the US is predictably using its more spectacular contribution to this victory to purposely overshadow the vital role that Iran played through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its allied people’s militias,” Andrew Korybko, a political analyst at the Moscow-based Geopolitika.Ru think tank, told the Press Shia Agency News Agency.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Press Shia Agency: On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared the victory of the country’s forces over the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group one day after the country’s military and Popular Mobilization Forces took full control of the northern city. The recapture of Mosul marks the biggest blow to the extremist group since it declared its so-called caliphate three years ago. What’s your take on the victory?
Korybko: The Liberation of Mosul is a landmark achievement in the War on Terror and decisively turns the tide against Daesh, but it shouldn’t be over-celebrated because there’s still a lot of work which needs to be done on the anti-terrorist front, both in liberating more – albeit underpopulated – regions of Iraq and ensuring the security of those which have already been freed. Moreover, just because Iraq’s War on Terror seems to finally be drawing to a close doesn’t mean that the country is guaranteed the peaceful and prosperous future that it deserves, because a new destabilization scenario is fast emerging through the Kurds’ imminent independence referendum later this year.
There’s a very high likelihood that this will trigger either a civil war within Iraq among its constituent Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish identities or possibly even a regional one similar to the Arabs’ 1948 war against “Israel”. The threatened removal of the Kurdish factor from Iraq domestic politics disrupts the delicate balance between the rump country’s Shiite and Sunni populations, and the creation of “Kurdistan” would lead to a “second geopolitical ‘Israel’” in the structural-geopolitical sense. Because both of these interlinked conflict scenarios are inadvertently advanced by the Liberation of Mosul, the freeing of Iraq’s second-largest city from the terrorists will probably remain an unforgettable moment in the country’s history, though for all of the wrong reasons once the immediate euphoria of Daesh’s defeat dies down.
Press Shia Agency: The US claims that its support for the Iraqi Army paved the way for the liberation of the northern city and is seeking to hijack the victory. This is while that the United States attacked Iraq in a bid to push Iraqi forces to withdraw from Kuwait in 1990. Americans waged another war on Iraq in 2003 by occupying the country in an apparent attempt to overthrow former dictator Saddam Hussein. What do you think about all of this?
Korybko: American airpower played a crucial role in the Liberation of Mosul, though the US is predictably using its more spectacular contribution to this victory to purposely overshadow the vital role that Iran played through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its allied people’s militias. The US only got involved in Iraq’s anti-terrorist struggle following the resignation of former Prime Minister Maliki, which was brought about by American pressure after the Iraqi Army’s large-scale retreat in the summer of 2014 following Daesh’s offensive. Even then, however, American airpower sought to corral the very same terrorists which Washington helped create into the direction of their shared strategic interests, which roughly translated pushing America’s now-uncontrollable proxies further into Syria and in the direction of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Damascus. It was only in the past year that the US got somewhat “serious” about waging the War on Terror in Iraq, and that’s solely because of the astounding gains that the SAA made with the support of Russia’s Aerospace Forces.
Iran, on the other hand, has consistently fought against terrorists in Syria and Iraq since the moment that it received approval from both host countries to do so, and it did so through fierce on-the-ground battles and in order to protect its own country from becoming the next target of Daesh’s “caliphate”. As the strongest military in the Mideast, Iran’s support to its allies and the many martyrs that it sacrificed to their collective cause were indispensable in helping them achieve victory. Although American airpower also played a key role, it wasn’t the main determinant in deciding the course of the campaign, and it’s likely that Mosul would have eventually been liberated even without the US’ support, though potentially with many more allied casualties (though less civilian ones). It’s therefore disingenuous for the US to attempt to hijack the Liberation of Mosul by claiming that its support for the Iraqi Army was the main reason for success, but it’s, of course, doing this in a bid to steal some of the hard-earned credit and respect that Iran much more understandably deserves and in order to manipulate the global public into forgetting that the US ever played a role in Daesh’s formation.
Press Shia Agency: What might the future hold for the region now that the days of Daesh are numbered both in Iraq and Syria? Do you believe that any agreement between Moscow and Washington can help bring back peace to the volatile region?
Korybko: Daesh will most likely transition its operations from territory conquests to conventional insurgency, just as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) did in Mali following France’s 2013 anti-terrorist intervention there. Many people have either forgotten about this African War on Terror or overlook its importance, but it’s instructive for interested individuals to examine what happened there once AQIM’s “caliphate” collapsed because it provides a great deal of insight into what might come next for Daesh. AQIM dispersed into a decentralized network of terrorist cells occasionally allied with non-Islamic “rebel” elements and still poses a dire security challenge to this day, so proceeding from this template, it’s possible that Daesh will attempt to do the same and would probably succeed much more than its African predecessor did because of the fragmented political environment that it’ll be fighting in.
This brings the answer along to the next point, and it’s that the internal political agendas of Syria and Iraq will soon take precedence in their affairs once the conventional anti-terrorist phase of these countries’ conflicts is finished (i.e. the dismantlement of the “caliphate” and Daesh’s transition into a terrorist “insurgency”). Both states have internally fragmented across the past couple of years, with Iraq’s divisions more or less aligning with the greatest areas of concentration between its Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni populations, while Syria’s are marked by the liberated territories; Salafist “rebel”-held ones in the southwest, southeast, and northwest; and Kurdish-occupied ones in the northeast. No matter how much each respective national government may want to recentralize their authority across the land, this will probably be impossible to do so long as they lack the full military support of their Great Power patrons, which are Russia in Syria and the US in Iraq.
Moscow appears to implicitly accept – whether rightly or wrongly – that the “decentralization” of the Arab Republic is a fait accompli, hence why it has sought to stabilize this process and steer it in what its strategists believe to be the “most desirable” direction through some of the relevant clauses included in the Russian-written “draft constitution” for Syria. Washington, on the other hand, has no such desire to see a strongly reunified Iraq, nor even a stable “decentralized” one at that, which is why it’s tacitly backing Erbil’s independence referendum later this year. The contrast between Russia and the US couldn’t be clearer – Moscow would ideally prefer for strong, centralized states to sprout back up in Syria and Iraq, though it apparently accepts that this is impossible and is, therefore, trying to manage the unstable process of their “decentralization”, while Washington is deliberately provoking this process as part of its strategy to geopolitically re-engineer a “New Middle East” through the implementation of the Yinon Plan by means of "Blood Borders".
For these reasons, it’s unlikely that Russia and the US could ever come to a long-lasting agreement with one another in the Mideast, let alone to bring peace back to this volatile region, because Washington deliberately opened Pandora’s Box in order to spread chaos throughout the region, and Moscow has been scrambling to contain its regional consequences. There’s no strategic common ground between these two Great Powers, though Russia could make a tactical move by enacting perceived “concessions” in the Mideast in a gambit to advance a “New Détente” with the US in Europe. Such an action isn’t guaranteed to be successful, however, but it might, in any case, be a sign that the US has regained the regional upper hand through its wanton destabilization and that Russia is struggling to deal with its consequences. Furthermore, Russia wants ‘breathing space’ along its western borderland region, so it might link some of its Syrian-related moves and agreements with the US to its expectation (key word) that Washington will enact reciprocal “concessions” in Europe through sanctions relief, Washington’s restraint of Kiev, and/or potential NATO downscaling.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.