The assault on Mosul could be near:
American officials talk of driving ISIL out of Mosul and Raqqa soon, as in by mid-2016, while some senior Iraqi officials openly doubt that Mosul will be liberated this year at all.
But there is a problem, as the Iraqi worries indicate:
A lot of Iraqis still doubt the capabilities of their armed forces and are more afraid of the Iran-backed Shia militias that openly call for a religious dictatorship in Iraq. So while the Kurds report that they have surrounded Mosul from the north and are ready for the final battle the Iraqi government forces south of the city are pointing out that they have to keep an eye on ISIL as well as their “allies” the Iran-backed Shia militias. ...
Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the head of the Iran backed Shia militias in Iraq has said publicly that if Iran ordered him to overthrow the Iraqi government he would do so. This confirms what Iraqi leaders have long feared.
And have no doubt, Iran, especially after the nuclear deal which puts this administration in the position of not wanting to pressure Iran our of fear it will provoke Iran into ending the deal (after Iran has reaped the up-front financial benefits), has more influence in Iraq.
To me, there is a solution--send the Shia militias into the battle in the first wave before our air power has really had an effect on the ISIL defenders. These guys dismiss our air power, after all:
Flush with cash and weapons, Islamic State is attracting huge numbers of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria and withstanding U.S.-led air strikes that are failing to hit the right targets, a powerful Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary leader [Hadi al-Amiri] told Reuters in an interview.
Heck, this would be culturally sensitive since the militia guys would rather have Allah than air power backing them. Right?
And if the Shia militias refuse the order to go into battle? Well, use that refusal as a reason to disband the disobeying militia unit. So as much as I've worried about the time it has taken to defeat ISIL, one result of all that time being taken is that a new threat has arisen--the pro-Iran Shia militias.
So hold off the assault on Mosul while one Shia militia unit after another is either sent into battle in ill-supported frontal assaults or is surrounded by loyal Iraq units and disbanded (and militia leaders arrested and tried for cowardice in the face of the enemy).
Every Shia militia fighter who dies at the gates of Mosul or who is sent home disarmed, now lacking their leaders, is one fewer to back a coup in Baghdad to put a pro-Iran religious dictatorship in power--and prompt immediate Kurdish independence and a re-ignition of the of Sunni insurrection in Anbar province as these guys declare independence.