1.On June 29, as Iraqi state TV proudly proclaimed "The Myth of the ISIS Caliphate Has Fallen," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made his way to western Mosul to give a victory address. On June 29, after months of tough urban fighting, Iraqi forces reclaimed critical pieces of the western part of the city, including the remains of the al-Nuri mosque in the Old City. Like the mosque, the Islamic State in Iraq lies in rubble, but the Mosul offensive has helped engaging the security forces in the eyes of many Iraqis. Yet many battles still lie ahead, including dangerous political ones.
2.While victory in Mosul is achieved the fight is not over. Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the Joint Military Command, confirmed that Iraqi forces had militarily defeated the Islamic State there. Within hours of a dawn assault June 29, Iraqi counterterrorism units had advanced on all major portions of Mosul's Old City, where the tight, densely populated, winding streets filled with deadly clashes.
3.Iraqi forces aim to take the western banks of the Tigris River in the Old City; where they controlled the eastern banks since January. Hostages and weary families emerged from hiding throughout western Mosul, and thousands have yet to be freed. They add to the strain of hundreds of people seeking refuge daily in makeshift camps.
4.While eastern Mosul has resumed the patterns of pre-Islamic State life and many refugees have returned home, the western half is months away from some semblance of normal life because of the destruction and because of hidden improvised explosive devices and other military traps planted by the Islamic State.
5.The fight for ultimate control of Mosul and Ninevah province is as fraught with risk as the path to Iraqi stability. Despite the loss of territory, the Islamic State will continue to try to recruit and to retain relevance by launching suicide attacks in Iraqi cities. Sunni population of Iraq and more precisely the Sunni extremist groups will fill this requirement .It will also push back militarily in a localised manner , and Iraq has begun moving forces used in the Mosul offensive to Anbar province near the Syrian border.
6.The Islamic State maintains several pockets of fighters in vast stretches of desert in the Sunni-dominant province alongside the rivers. Some Iraqi units will also probably be deployed to Hawija province, where a significant contingent of militants remains.
7. Isolated Islamic militants have attacked Kurdish peshmerga forces in and around Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu sporadically in recent months. Islamic State fighters also remain near Tal Afar, west of Mosul, where Shiite paramilitary units and Kurdish forces have cleared territory.
8.With a military victory in Mosul, Iraqi security forces can also claim a vote of confidence. Many residents of Mosul didn't trust the central government and the security forces, and this mistrust helped the Islamic State easily claim Mosul in 2014. The rescue of many Moslawis by the Iraqi security forces will help soften their image, even though deep wells of mistrust remain. Residents also feared that Shiite paramilitary units would take revenge on Moslawis for not putting up more resistance to the Islamic State takeover, but those units have remained well outside the city in western Iraq.
9.The Mosul operation proper — free of widespread reports of revenge, torture or incarceration of residents, or even resistance from residents to Iraqi forces — is a political victory for Prime Minister al-Abadi. It's also a harbinger for successful administration of Ninevah province by Baghdad, and a political victory that other politicians, including former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will seek to claim.
10.The contest between allies of al-Abadi and al-Maliki within Shiite politics will heat up in the months to come, as Iraqi parties make and break coalitions ahead of parliamentary and provincial elections. Al-Maliki retains much of his political influence even though he is no longer the head of the National Alliance coalition of Shiite parties. While the fight against the Islamic State has kept much politicking on a back burner, he will work to weaken al-Abadi's reaffirmed legitimacy and that of his allies. And al-Maliki's allies will try to maximize their gains in the elections as will other Shiite leaders, such as Muqtada al-Sadr.His strongest support comes from the class of dispossessed Shi'a, like in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. Many Iraqi supporters see in him a symbol of resistance to foreign occupation.
11.But they are not alone in their maneuvering. Sunni and Kurdish parties, too, are building coalitions to channel their demands in the Shiite-majority country. The Kurds will step up their demands for autonomy from Baghdad and for control over territory taken from the Islamic State. Baghdad recognized the official boundaries of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 2005, but in the ensuing 12 years, Kurdish forces have claimed more swaths of territory in a handful of Iraqi provinces. The last three years of fighting the Islamic State have only amplified the Kurds' demands for autonomy over the territory. Now that Kurdish politicians have set an independence referendum for Sept. 25, Kurdish parties are recalibrating their regional government alliances in their contests with Baghdad and each other.
12.One side issue that has been simmering between Baghdad and the Kurdish capital, Arbil, is the status of Kirkuk. The city is a focal point of oil-rich and strategic territory, and the battles over the region's sovereignty have also entangled the feuding Kurdish parties. The city's leaders have tossed their lot in with the vote for independence. And even though Baghdad has little power to stop the referendum, if it were successful, the central government would work to curtail its implementation. The prime minister has supported the constitutional right to hold a referendum, even if he has decried its ultimate intent. And others, including Turkey, Iran, the United States, have also opposed an independence vote, citing the need to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity. It would therefore be a wholesome step for all to allow Kurds to settle for their large regional autonomy.
13.Countries bordering Iraq also have intensified interest in Iraq in the post-Mosul period. Turkey's security interests in northern Iraq have long hinged on an intent to rout the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey continues to launch frequent airstrikes on the PKK and often threatens land offensives. With the Mosul operation mostly over, peshmerga aligned with Ankara could be pressured to help Turkey clear the PKK from northern Iraq. Civilians have reportedly been fleeing territory close to PKK positions in Dohuk province, pointing to the apprehension that the chance for greater conflict is high.
14.Three years ago, on June 29, 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL) announced the founding of its caliphate in a statement by spokesmen Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. The next month, the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, gave a victory address from the al-Nuri mosque, which was destroyed last week to keep Iraqi security forces from claiming a symbolic victory. Al-Adnani is now dead, killed in an airstrike in Syria in 2016, and Baghdadi has long disappeared. The Mosul offensive is a significant milestone for Iraq and the global coalition seeking to quash the jihadist threat in the country. But for Iraq, the victory represents one small step on a long , bumpy and tenuous track to unity and peace.( Source : Stratfor - Worldview )