After Islamic State, Is There Still an Iraq? by Michael Dempsey – Wall Street Journal
As the U.S.-led coalition effort to destroy Islamic State’s physical caliphate nears its endgame in Iraq, a major question hangs over the country: Is there still an Iraq?
ISIS has suffered a series of crippling blows, including its loss of the strategically important town of Tal Afar in Nineveh province. The U.S.-led coalition will next focus on driving ISIS out of Hawijah, some 200 miles north of Baghdad. Hawijah has an outsize military importance because ISIS has used it as a staging area from which to attack Baghdad with hundreds of improvised explosive devices, including car bombs. When the Hawijah operation is complete, the coalition will focus on attacking ISIS in its remaining enclaves along the border with Syria.
Once ISIS has been deprived of the territory it holds, can Iraq’s major communities come together to share power and build a common future? That question is sparking increasingly heated debate in Iraq and the international community. In my opinion (which does not reflect the view of the intelligence community or the U.S. government), the answer will be determined by how the Iraqis respond to five key unresolved issues…