Saturday, November 05, 2016

A Welcome Complication

Shia popular mobilization forces (largely Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militias) are streaming for the Iraqi city of Tal Afar (west of Mosul) which Turkey is keeping a watchful eye on to protect ethnic Turks there:

The city of Tal Afar, a former Ottoman outpost not far from Mosul that has a mostly ethnic Turkmen population and has been home to a corps of Islamic State leaders, on Saturday became the focus of a growing struggle between Turkey and Iran for influence in northern Iraq.

That is because Iraq’s Shiite militias, some of which receive support from Iran, began on Saturday to move west of Mosul, a trajectory that would essentially cut off Islamic State fighters in the city from their bases in Syria. The Shiite militias’ move toward Tal Afar could also draw Turkey deeper into the already complex battlefield around Mosul.

If the Turks bloodied the Shia militias in a major way in response to militia actions at Tal Afar, that would help Iraq's government deal with such a potentially disloyal armed force and inflict a good hurt on any chances of Iran-Turkey cooperation at our expense.

That could well be a welcome complication in the Battle for Mosul.