Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Next Iraq War

As I spoke about even before the surge offensive in Iraq War 1.0, after defeating the enemies on the battlefield in Iraq, American and Western help will be needed to strengthen rule of law in Iraq. Otherwise the jihadis will continue to kill with far too much success.

Even before Mosul is liberated from ISIL control, ISIL fighters are reverting to insurgent and terrorist mode within Iraq:

The Islamic State is nearing defeat on the battlefield, but away from the front lines its members are seeping back into areas the group once controlled, taking advantage of rampant corruption in Iraq’s security forces and institutions.

Police officers, judges and local officials describe an uneven hand of justice that allows some Islamic State collaborators to walk, dimming Iraq’s chances of escaping the cycle of violence that has plagued the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

There are other jihadis trying to reform in Iraq, too.

It is of course important for the American military to remain in Iraq after the Islamic state caliphate is broken in order to help the Iraqis hunt down ISIL remnants; and to keep an eye on training standards in the Iraqi security forces.

But that is not the only thing that should be on the 30-day review of the fight against ISIL (and jihadis in general, including al Qaeda that is rebuilding).

It is also important to have a surge of FBI and court advisors to help the Iraqis build a law enforcement system with rule of law that does not leave so many holes for the jihadis to enter Iraqi life and kill Iraqis.

And advisors on how to run government agencies as something other than personal enrichment fiefdoms.

This must be a government-wide effort and not just a military effort.

This will be the next Iraq War. We need to win that too.

Win this war and democracy can become a practical rather than aspirational alternative in the Arab world to autocrats or Islamists for a governing system.