Local and regional actors are maneuvering to secure their position in 2017 and for a post-ISIS Mosul.
Operations in eastern Mosul largely paused from December 13 to 19 likely in order to stem the growing casualties taken by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and to regroup before pushing into central Mosul. Meanwhile, the Popular Mobilization continued its push west, connecting its parallel lines of effort when it recaptured the north-south road between the Tel Afar Airbase and the southern town of Ashwa on December 13.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued operations to retake Mosul and its environs, consolidating gains along its five axes before breaching the city limits on November 1.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made significant gains in northeastern Mosul from December 6 to 12, but struggled to advance in the southeast. The ISF ordered a change in tactic on December 4 in order to address the lopsided eastern offensive, attempting to make rapid advances in the southeast rather than grind through neighborhood-by-neighborhood clearing operations. The shift, however, failed drastically when the rapid gains left the ISF open to ISIS counterattacks, resulting in heavy casualties on December 6 and 7. In response, the ISF moved units previously allocated to breach Mosul’s southwestern neighborhoods to reinforce efforts in the southeast on December 10.
The Council of Representatives met to discuss the 2017 federal budget on December 4 and 5 but failed to put the budget to a final vote .The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) deployed security forces from Baghdad to northern Iraq, as ISIS spectacular attacks in the capital decreased.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made limited gains in Mosul from November 28 to December 5, but moved additional assets from Baghdad into the region in order to reinforce current lines of effort in Mosul and improve security in southern Ninewa.
The Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR) passed a law on November 26 that solidifies the Popular Mobilization, the majority of which are Shi’a militias with a history of sectarian violence, as a permanent security institution in Iraq.
Iraq could face another Sunni insurgency after ISIS loses control of Mosul. The U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve has not resolved the political conditions that originally caused Sunni Arabs to mobilize in a non-violent protest movement in 2012-2013. Sunni Arabs in Iraq who are liberated from ISIS’s control will not necessarily be reconciled to the Iraqi Government.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made limited gains in eastern Mosul from November 22 to 28 as it struggled to identify and target ISIS militants operating among the significant civilian population remaining in the city. Meanwhile, Iraqi Shi’a militias turned their offensive towards remaining ISIS-held cities in far western Ninewa province, as Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced that the Iraqi army and police would recapture Tel Afar.
The campaign for Mosul entered its second month, with current momentum indicating that the operation will last into January 2017. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) remained entrenched in eastern Mosul while facing fierce ISIS resistance from November 16 to 21, and Shi’a militias are on the outskirts of Tel Afar after seizing the nearby airbase on November 16.