The Iraqi government has launched a coordinated offensive to dislodge ISIS from its strongest redoubt: Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq with a population of one and a half million. Up to 74,000 Iraqi soldiers, 40,000 Peshmerga troops and various Western support units are engaged in what is the most important battle in the war against ISIS in Iraq.
In late July, Wikistrat simulated the likely impact and follow-on consequences of the liberation of Mosul. Its analysts were tasked with identifying key potential outcomes, grouping them thematically before considering the effects of such developments on ISIS — and the possible risks for the U.S. and its allies regarding the likely ISIS response.
40 analysts from 18 different countries and 12 areas of expertise (including military affairs, counterterrorism, the Middle East and energy security) took part in this exercise. This summary outlines the key findings of the simulation:
- Following the loss of Mosul, ISIS is likely to change its tactics and engage in a prolonged and intensive campaign of asymmetrical terrorism throughout Iraq and Syria.
- Defeat in Mosul would weaken ISIS as a whole, but could strengthen its internal cohesion. If foreign fighters return home, the balance would shift to local Sunni fighters who are more adept at exploiting local tribal practices, customs and courtesies.
- ISIS will likely retreat to smaller strongholds such as Al-Qa’im and Raqqa in order to stage a secondary defense. Raqqa in particular offers a safe haven, as no ground force has a major incentive to seek its capture.
Click here or on one of the thumbnails to download the presentation and learn more.