After the initiation of the Raqqa operation, the inclusion of the People's Protection Units' (YPG) under the name of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford's statement indicating that the U.S. has come to an agreement with Ankara, I would like to begin my article with the latest developments in the Mosul operation. It has been more than two weeks since the Mosul operation began and there are no signs indicating when it will end. Before the operation, it was being said that Daesh would not be able to endure for much longer and that Mosul would be recaptured within several weeks. I never found these comments realistic. Mosul has a big and complex demographic structure in which Daesh may have a base. Besides, we are confronted with the most dangerous terrorist group in the world and are being kept in the dark about what is going on in the city and what kind of arrangements are being made.
The city has not yet been fully encircled and the coalition forces have taken a break in operations. This shows that Daesh responded more harshly and in a more organized way than expected and the Iraqi army needs to start planning again. Plus, the issue does not solely consist of the clashes between Daesh and the coalition. Some other concerns will come into play as the operation progresses. For instance, the Hashd al-Shaabi, or the People›s Mobilization Forces, which consists of Shiite militias, is advancing toward Tal Afar. I am receiving calls for aid each day via telephone and email about Tal Afer. Turkey has from the very beginning been warning against this danger: The purging of Daesh cannot turn into an arena where Shiite forces massacre Sunnis. This would carry the war in the Middle East into its most dangerous phase and will play intoDaesh's hands. Let us not forget that the urban war has not started yet, and some news reports suggesting that Daesh fortified the entrenchments within Mosul have been released. But what was the original plan? Barack Obama planned the Mosul victory to favor presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before he leaves office. Obama is no longer president, but can any result or achievement be obtained in Mosul?
Plans for what to do following the recapture of Mosul have not yet been agreed on. What kind of a governing structure will the city have in the aftermath of Daesh's departure? In what way will the power be distributed? How could the sectarian balances be protected? No consensus can be achieved on any of these matters. Sunnis in the region have serious concerns but the leaders conducting the operation gloss over this point. But what is the outlook of the people of Mosul on these developments? Do they feel obliged to make a choice between Daesh and oppressive Shiite governance? We do not know.
Besides, despite the claims suggesting that Daesh is about to dissolve and has no staying power, the terrorist group still maintains its strategic integrity. It is evident from its leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi's statements and their reactions in Mosul that they still have their integrity in tact as well as their communication and governance mechanisms. Obviously, Daesh will resist in Mosul.
While the Mosul operation was ongoing, the Raqqa operation kicked off with the official name "Euphrates Rage." Dunford was in Turkey when the operation started, which in my opinion is important in terms of emphasizing the role of Turkey in the operation. Of course, the YPG's presence in the field is a source of disturbance for Turkey. However, Dunford and Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar negotiated the delicate details and agreed on the importance of Turkey's intelligence and logistic support in Raqqa. There are two operations in our vicinity that are likely to last for a long time and unfortunately both of them involve serious risks. But they are essential for Turkey's safety.
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