(FP) High Noon in Iraq–ISIS is finally being forced out of the country, but anarchy is taking over

The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” my former student from there sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”

Iraq is now face-to-face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will ”” and have already ”” lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when military successes of the Sahwa, or Sunni Awakening militias, against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.

This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-IS territories, where both the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before….

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