Tags: Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | David Petraeus | Real Battle | Mosul | Retake | ISIS

Gen. Petraeus: 'Real Battle' Looms After Fight to Retake Mosul From ISIS Ends

("Morning Joe"/YouTube)

By    |   Friday, 21 October 2016 12:10 PM

There is "no question" that Mosul will be taken, but the real battle will come after the battle for the Iraqi city is finished, retired Gen. David Petraeus said Friday.

"We have reconstituted the Iraqi forces, retrained, reequipped, remanned them," the former CIA director told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "We're advising and assisting and providing an armada of manned and unmanned aircraft over them with precision strike, great leaders like Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend."

The United States has seen what ISIS is willing to do, including using "suicide bombers, tunnels, explosives," but the Iraqi forces will "clearly prevail," said Petraeus, a former commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

"That's not the real battle. The real battle comes after the Islamic State, and after they clear out the rest of the province all the way to the Syrian border. That's about politics in the most complex human terrain in all of Iraq. Sunni Arab majority, Shiites, Kurds, you name it, they're all there."

There has been some talk that it will be difficult to get Sunni fighters to unite in an army taking its orders from Baghdad, show host Joe Scarborough said, but Petraeus said the coalition forces are "all united in the desire to clear the Islamic State from Mosul and the rest of Iraq."

"There are Iraqi security forces, army and police units, the counterterrorist forces they'll bring up every time they need something particularly difficult done," said Petraeus.

"There are Shia militia that are really sponsored in a sense, directed to a degree by Iran. There are Kurds that are of course working for the Kurdish regional government leaders and Sunni militia from the tribes as well. You have a big grouping of these, and that's indeed what the challenge is going to be after the Islamic State is done."

When that happens, the unifying forces will become more of a power struggle, "which is what Iraq has always been about at the national level as well," Petraeus said.

Already, in Baghdad, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has to "watch his own back politically" because the former prime minister is coming after him, said Petraeus, and Iraqis will have to come together in Mosul to achieve a government that represents all the different elements involved.

Petraeus, though, does believe the Obama administration and the United States is "doing enough, and more" when it comes to the fight against the Islamic State.

"I have said for some time that the sooner you could show that the Islamic State is a loser, is the sooner they're no longer effective in social media where they're really distinguishing themselves, in addition to having a caliphate," said Petraeus.

"That was important. It's taken time to develop this momentum, to be sure. One of your other guests, Gen. Mike Hayden, used to say this was under-resourced and over-regulated. I don't think that's the case now in Iraq."

In Syria, however, more needs to be done, the former CIA director said.

"Secretary [John] Kerry says, for example, that there's no military solution," said Petraeus. "I'm not sure that Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad got that memo, because they seem intent on that.

"But he's undoubtedly right at the end of the day, but there has to be a change in the military context or there's not going to be any negotiation that is meaningful."

One solution would be to enforce a safe zone on the now-existing Turkish site, and to inform al Assad that if his forces attack people there, "we'll ground his air force," said Petraeus. However, care has to be taken while doing that because of Russia's involvement.

"We don't want to be provocative and start World War III over Syria," said Petraeus. "Having said that, if we don't show this kind of additional toughness and firmness, I don't think we're going to have a context in which we can get anything appreciable negotiated."

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There is "no question" that Mosul will be taken, but the real battle will come after the battle for the Iraqi city is finished, retired Gen. David Petraeus said Friday.
David Petraeus, Real Battle, Mosul, Retake, ISIS
Friday, 21 October 2016 12:10 PM
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