‘Iraq cannot be reborn until Mosul is free. We must make haste to achieve this objective,’ said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in September 2014, after winning parliament’s backing to form a national unity government to defeat ISIS. Delays followed; Iraqis waited more than two years for the ‘victorious operations’ to drive ISIS from the city it had captured that June. President Obama called it ‘another step towards the ultimate destruction’ of ISIS: retaking Mosul would restore the unity of Iraq, disrupted by a war (1991), a decade of embargos (1990-2003) and a US-led invasion (March 2003-December 2011).Obama’s tone cannot hide US concerns in the province of Nineveh. Pentagon strategists doubt the Iraqi army is capable of a quick victory. In 2014 its troops, though superior in number, withdrew from Mosul without fighting, abandoning their weaponry which fell into ISIS hands.
The battle for Mosul