- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared victory over the Islamic State, signalling an end to more than three years of battle that saw Iraqi troops first fleeing without their weapons and then, with foreign assistance, regrouping to recover lost territory. At the peak of its influence, the IS controlled almost a third of Iraq, including Mosul, its second largest city.
- Mr. Abadi, who took over as Prime Minister in September 2014 when the country was in the middle of the civil war, adopted a cautious, gradualist approach with direct help from the United States and Iran to take on the IS. Iraqi troops first stopped the IS’s southward expansion in the suburbs of Baghdad and then started offensive operations in the group’s small pockets of influence. After capturing cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraqi troops moved to Mosul, the jewel in the IS crown. Iran-trained Shia militias and Kurdish Peshmerga troops joined the ground battle, as the U.S. provided air cover. When Mosul was liberated in July after nine months of fighting, it was arguable whether a final victory over the IS was just a matter of time. Mr. Abadi claims Iraqi soldiers have established control over the vast Iraq-Syria border after ousting IS fighters from small border towns where they had retreated after losing urban areas.
- For Mr. Abadi and the Iraqi military, this is a moment of both relief and accomplishment. But it may be far too simplistic to conclude that Iraq is totally rid of the IS threat. Perhaps a greater challenge they face is healing the wounds of the civil war. Iraq is a divided country today. The resource-rich south, which is mostly Shia, supports the government and is relatively peaceful. In the war-stricken north and west, there is no doubting that people feel alienated from the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad. The Kurdish Autonomous Region has already held a referendum, against the wishes of Baghdad, in which a majority of voters supported independence. If the government fails to tackle these divisions and lets parts of the country drift into anarchy again, groups like the IS will find it an easy breeding ground and regain a footing. The IS may have lost territory, but it would be blind to deny that the group doesn’t exist anymore. It is not known, for instance, what happened to its self-declared Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Syria it still controls territory, even if it is under growing pressure of Russian-American bombing and Kurdish attacks. In 2006-07, al-Qaeda in Iraq had faced similar military setbacks. But when Iraq’s sectarian rivalry took a turn for the worse and civil war broke out in Syria, it regrouped and reinvented itself as the IS. Mr. Abadi has to see that this doesn’t repeat itself. In order to do so, he must, besides keeping the military on alert, reach out to the country’s disaffected Sunnis and Kurds. Only a united Iraq can hold off the resurrection of the extremists.
Battle: a sustained fight between large, organized armed forces.
Example: The Battle of Shiloh
Synonyms: fight, armed conflict, clash, struggle, skirmish, engagement
Flee: run away from a place or situation of danger.
Example: A man was shot twice as he fled from five masked youths
Synonyms: run (away/off), run for it, make a run for it, dash, take flight
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Example: The influence of television violence
Synonyms: effect, impact, control, sway, hold, power, authority, mastery
Cautious: careful to avoid potential problems or dangers.
Example: A cautious driver
Synonyms: careful, heedful, attentive, alert, watchful, vigilant, circumspect
Troops: come or go together or in large numbers.
Example: The girls trooped in for dinner
Synonyms: walk, march, file, proceed, flock, crowd, throng, stream
Offensive: causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry.
Example: The allegations made are deeply offensive to us
Synonyms: insulting, insolent, derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful, wounding
Ousting: drive out or expel someone from a position or place.
Example: He ousted a long-term incumbent by only 500 votes
Synonyms: drive out, expel, force out, throw out
Retreat: withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat.
Example: The French retreated in disarray
Synonyms: withdraw, retire, draw back, pull back/out, fall back, give way, give ground
Heal: cause a wound, injury, or person to become sound or healthy again.
Example: His concern is to heal sick people
Synonyms: curative, therapeutic, medicinal, remedial, corrective, reparative
Alienate: cause someone to feel isolated or estranged.
Example: An urban environment that would alienate its inhabitants
Synonyms: estrange, divide, distance, put at a distance, isolate, cut off
Anarchy: a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.
Example: He must ensure public order in a country threatened with anarchy
Synonyms: lawlessness, nihilism, mobocracy, revolution, insurrection
Breeding: the mating and production of offspring by animals.
Example: Palolo worms use the moon to time their breeding
Synonyms: reproduction, procreation, mating; rearing, raising, nurturing
Setback: a reversal or check in progress.
Example: A serious setback for the peace process
Synonyms: problem, difficulty, hitch, complication, upset, disappointment
Disaffected: dissatisfied with the people in authority and no longer willing to support them.
Example: A military plot by disaffected elements in the army
Synonyms: dissatisfied, disgruntled, discontented, malcontent, frustrated
Resurrection: the action or fact of resurrecting or being resurrected.
Example: The story of the resurrection of Osiris
Extremist: a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.
Example: Political extremists
Synonyms: fanatic, radical, zealot, fundamentalist, militant, activist, ultra