Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Lessons from the Liberation of Sinjar
Still, tactical gains in Sinjar do not translate into a strategic victory over ISIL. While reinforcing the coalition–Kurdish alliance, the Sinjar offensive has exposed the deep divisions within the Kurdish camp, and the limitations of future Peshmerga engagements outside their claimed territories. Nor has reclaiming Sinjar enhanced Sunni Arab support for this war — requisite for effectively countering ISIL in Iraq and Syria. In some ways, the Sinjar aftermath has done just the opposite by reinforcing the ethno-sectarian conflicts into which ISIL has been superimposed. If the coalition wants to gain real momentum in countering ISIL in strategically significant strongholds such as Mosul and Raqqah, then it must pay closer attention to the second- and third-order consequences of its campaign on the local balance of power between ethnic and sectarian groups, particularly in Iraq’s disputed territories and where Sunni Arab support is vital.