GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ – The Iraqi forces have declared victory over ISIS in Mosul, as AFP declares victory for Obama:

The Iraqi military’s hard-fought victory over the Islamic State group in Mosul marks a defining moment not just for them. It is also a key win for the US doctrine behind it.

Instead of putting large numbers of American boots on the ground, the US-led strategy in Iraq and Syria has been a non-stop air campaign combined with continual training and advising for proxy local forces.Pentagon officials say the outcome is clear — three years after collapsing as flag-waving jihadists swept across their country, Iraq’s security forces have become a battle-hardened army that prevailed in a brutal urban fight.

Credit where credit is due, with two caveats: it was in part Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq in 2011 that created a security vacuum, which ISIS has subsequently filled, and the combination of the air support with training local troops has hardly been invented by the Obama administration. Iraqi troops have been undergoing training from 2004 onward, if with at best mixed results. The unnamed military official quoted in the article argues the previous training was more centered on counter-insurgency warfare, whereas this time the Iraqi troops required a conventional warfare training. But fighting in Mosul has not been significantly different to that in Fallujah or any number of cities in the Sunni Triangle between 2004 and 2009, except perhaps in the numbers of combatants involved. All that aside, it is encouraging that the Western military advisers have finally managed to instil in the Iraqi (i.e. largely Shia) forces the will to stand the ground and engage in brutal and protracted urban fighting. If only more has been done to train and arm the ever-willing and ever-courageous Kurds, the victory would have most likely arrived far sooner. A good news, nevertheless.

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