Iraq After ISIS

Why More Fighting May Be In Store

Tribal fighters near Qayyara, Iraq, November 2016. Alaa Al-Marjani / REUTERS

The campaign to liberate Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) has raised questions about what Iraq will look like once ISIS is defeated. The expulsion of the militants from Iraq will probably neither decrease the number of armed groups in the country nor limit the potential for violence there. Far from portending the end of Iraq’s current turbulence, ISIS’ demise could have the opposite effect, creating opportunities for violent competition in the areas that the militant group abandons.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First among these is the fact that ISIS has exacerbated the old grievances among the various groups living under its control in an attempt to play them off of one another. Next is the sharp increase in weapons and outside support that Iraq’s armed groups have received in recent years, in large part to equip them for the

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