On March 6, an ambush set by Da’ish in Kirkuk led to killing many of Iraqi Popular Mobilization fighters, which is considered a negative indicator proving that Da’ish still constitutes a serious threat to Iraqis. They are afraid that such accidents might repeat in other places in a way that might lead to undermining the fragile security in the cities where this terrorist group previously emerged.
Da’ish is currently facing hard times in Syria and trying to sneak into Iraq, which justifies the Iraqi mobilization on the border with Syria. This gate of evil must be closed to protect Iraq from its dangers. Just in this way, we can say that the dustbin of history will be a suitable place for Da’ish. However, it is not the end of Da’ish’s story, as there are more local factors determining its future there.
In Iraq, politicians have no other words to say but to condemn the last explosions in Kirkuk and Mosul. They do not ask what the reasons and messages stand behind such attacks, and how they could counter them in the future. Many Iraqis believe that the majority of these partisan masters are not statesmen and do not have a plan to manage this crisis threatening Iraq’s national security. That is what Iraqis are deeply concerned about, and they think that these politicians do not have any desire to avoid the past mistakes that Da’ish exploited for its own sake.
In Fact, there is an Iraqi division in regard to the future of IS. The Kurds and many of Sunnis affirm that IS has not been eliminated, and there is a need for the international coalition to stay in Iraq to help Iraqis when IS resurfaces again. They say that this will be a guarantee that Da’ish will not be able again to do its atrocities against innocent people in Mosul or any other Iraqi city.
In turn, the majority of Shi’a parties do not agree with this rhetoric and declare that IS has been completely defeated and Iraqi forces in a better situation making them ready to counter any terrorist threat in the coming years, and thus the foreign forces are no longer welcome. If they want to extend their military bases, they will face a popular armed revolution.
Recently, a general of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said that politicians mean to amplify the role of IS in Iraq, affirming that Da’ish has become weaker than they think, and thus it is no longer forming a threat to Iraq. Personally, I suppose that the matter is not that simple – given the fact that radicalism is still active.
The more tension between Tehran and Washington is in Iraq, the more possibility for Da’ish to reemerge. Geopolitically, the US managed to find a strategic ally in Syria, SDF, to defeat IS, but it did not have any chance to make such a dream in Iraq, which created its PMFs to fight this terrorist organization. The US cannot take control of PMFs and thus considers them pro-Iranian organization
A new report stated that Washington has established two new military bases in the al-Anbar province to cut off the Iranian geographical bridge to Syria, making this vast area a theater for more tensions with the PMFs in the next months.
At this exact point, nowadays there is an international scramble towards Iraq for giving more hopes to those opposing the Iranian influence, believing this will force Tehran to take a step back. They forget that Iranian officials have also recently paid many visits to Iraq, trying to sabotage the American plans there. The net futuristic outcome of this complicated scene is the rise of a new radical player similar to Da’ish.
Iraqi president Barham Salih stated at the al-Sulaimani forum held in Iraqi Kurdistan Region, that corruption is the basic factor driving the political economy of violence in Iraq, and so there is a real need to eliminate it institutionally. Iraq, since 2003, has been in a fight against corruption yet nothing important is achieved in practice. Thus, Iraqis feel disappointed by this dilemma and it will hinder the attempts of creating a strong Iraqi state.
Far away from caste analyses, Iraq’s history informs us that the sons of villages cannot have a project to revive the state. Once they succeed in occupying the seats of power in Baghdad, they start imposing their rural values on this metropolitan city which destroy its urban structure in a way that prevents the state from restoring its political, economic, or social balance. This kind of ruling kidnapped Iraqi fate from 1979 to 2003 during the Ba’ath reign. Now, the same mechanism, but with another name or description: the anti-Ba’ath regime, is having another destructive role in the Iraqi parliament. The reactionary rural and tribal values, presently dominating Iraq’s political life, will not lead to any positively futuristic results in this country; they will just be a supporting element to the corruption and chaos as long as they are in the interest of such leaders.
In Iraq, the geography of Da’ish has affirmed that this organization can always have a foothold in the poor and rural regions, and then it starts its extension to the big cities to target their urban and civil values. It is a kind of intellectual conflict in the multi-sectarian Islamic communities.
In sum, besides the containment of corruption and its system, we are in urgent need to protect Iraq’s metropolitan areas from the tribal and rural values, and working hard on developing the outskirts of cities in terms of culture and behavior in a manner that participates in renouncing revenge, violence, repression, isolationism, and religious and nationalistic intolerance, not to mention the importance of the role played by the regional and international actors in supporting the stability of Iraq . This is the best formula to break the cycle of radical Islam.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Geopolitics.
The author is an Iraqi academic with a Ph.D. in Political Geography from the University of Baghdad and a Post-Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Warsaw. His research focuses on geopolitical issues in Iraq.