How Mosul's liberation could lead to another Iraqi civil war

From my interviews with senior government officials, military generals, regional experts, displaced persons from increasingly crowded refugee camps, it became clear to me that winning the fight for Mosul for the anti-ISIS side is hardly assured, and even if ISIS is eventually eradicated, the absence of a unifying enemy might release pent up animosities and hatreds among current allies. This could potentially unleash an even greater bloodbath in Iraq than that wrought by ISIS.

Based on everything I’ve heard, Washington is not ready for this. And what that means is that unless the U.S. government conducts a sober reassessment of its objectives and strategies. the U.S. will continue to expend large amounts of taxpayer dollars and some blood while unwittingly contributing to the further degradation of the Iraqi social fabric, worsening—not ending—the war. Without a better understanding of the military aspects of this complex offensive; without mobilizing a significant and immediate global humanitarian effort; and without a substantial diplomatic effort on America’s part, we may see a larger civil war igniting throughout Iraq than we’ve already seen.

General Yassin said he has several sources living among the ISIS troops giving him updated intelligence on enemy movements and dispositions. He estimated that there are upwards of 20,000 ISIS fighters defending the city. “They have moved out of all the easily identifiable buildings that could be hit with airstrikes,” the general explained, “And they have moved into the residential areas, specifically embedding themselves in the civil population.” Their intention is to limit coalition bombing by touting killed civilians from U.S. and coalition strikes.