Saturday, July 15, 2017

Don’t underestimate Iraq’s historic victory against Isis – though the human cost was great. By Patrick Cockburn // Can the Liberation of Mosul begin to free the Mideast from Fundamentalism?

Northern Iraq is one of the most fought over places on earth. Ancient and modern fortifications are everywhere. Just outside Erbil is the site of the battle of Gaugamela where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army in 331 BC. Saddam Hussein’s soldiers fought the Kurds here for decades. But the nine-month long struggle for Mosul between Iraqi government forces and Isis, which just ended, is probably the most important and decisive battle ever fought in this region.

It is ending with a victory of historic proportions for the Iraqi government which will go far to shape the political future of not just Iraq, but the region as a whole. Isis, which for three years had an army, administration and territory making it more powerful than many members of the UN, has been defeated. It will revert to guerrilla warfare, but it will no longer be in control of a state machine through which it exercised its monstrous rule.

More posts on ISIS

The decisive nature of what has just happened needs to be emphasised, because the likelihood of continuing violence in Iraq may give the mistaken impression that nothing much has radically changed. Iraq also has a long tradition of over-confident rulers declaring victory, such as President George W Bush in 2003, only to see their supposed gains evaporating within a few months or years.

There will be more fighting and Isis still holds enclaves in Iraq at Tal Afar, west of Mosul, and Hawaija near Kirkuk, but these are isolated and will be overrun; in Syria, Isis fighters are holding out in the city of Raqqa and towns further south along the Euphrates.  Overall, Isis in future will hide in the deserts of western Iraq and eastern Syria, capable of raids and terrorist attacks, but nothing like the threat it posed to whole populations in 2014 -17… read more:

Can the Liberation of Mosul begin to free the Mideast from Fundamentalism?
Daeshism (Daeshia or Daeshna in Arabic) is derived from Daesh – the Arabic acronym for IS – but Iraqis use it to refer to a general act of subjugating outsiders. It is the attempted suppression of beliefs, ideas, behaviour, and appearances on religious grounds – and it is not just IS doing this in Iraq. Like IS, Daeshim uses an internal narrative of “us versus them”, going beyond sectarian differences to threaten individual liberties viewed as unacceptable by some religious leaders. The recent kidnap, torture, and murder of young artist Karar Nushi by unknown armed groups in Baghdad, merely because of his appearance, is just the latest in a series of heinous crimes that are an unprecedented threat to civil liberties in Iraq.

These wider repressions are nurtured by radical religious arguments, whether Shia or Sunni, which target art, music, singing, and dance, as haram – things that must be banned. Leaders of Islamic parties are deliberately distorting concepts such as secularism and civil society, tarnishing them as atheism that must be tackled. For example, a radical religious stance has made its way to educational institutions, both in theory and in practice, and to some Iraqi school textbooks. Daeshism reflects the mindset of sections of Iraqi society and of Arabic Islamic societies in general…

see also