The battle for Mosul

We have been told regularly by the BBC that Mosul has been recaptured from ISIL. They did that story again over the week-end.

Like most people I condemn ISIL for the tyranny it exerts on communities it infiltrates or conquers, for its brutality and its treatment of subject peoples. If they are now defeated in Mosul that could be a precondition for something better. Mosul rests at the northern top of Iraq, near the head of the Tigris valley to the south with its richer agricultural lands. The issues now are what price victory, and what political settlement will follow?

The pictures from near the front line show that most buildings are either damaged or demolished by the heavy firepower used to kill or clear ISIL fighters from the city. The economic work of the city has been destroyed for the time being, and many people have fled the violence and the lack of basic services needed for a normal life. Restoration will require immediate recovery to put in an electricity and water supply and start to recreate functioning shops, food supply and the other urgent needs. It will take time to tempt people back and help them rebuild.

Assuming the government of Iraq has both the capacity and the will power to initiate this work there can be some recovery. The central question is how can they ensure in future that ISIL or similar terrorist and extremists groups do not start up all over again? Can they settle a population back in Mosul and find a way of governing which gains sufficient consent to work? The Iraqi civil war has proved to be deep seated, with irreconcilable communities feeling the central government does not speak for them. It has proved to be a polity that allows or nurtures extremism in places where the central government loses control. How that government now behaves as it surveys the rubble of its military victory will determine whether something better can emerge from the bitter fighting.


  1. Mick
    July 11, 2017

    Off topic
    How can these people take the oath of parliament then want the monarchy removed, I now think if there was another god forbid general election that the lab/lib’s/snp/greens would be wiped out “hopefully “. I don’t know what planet Labour are on but they won votes by promising the earth, and why as there been no news on the so called student vote scandal

  2. Lifelogic
    July 11, 2017

    Indeed a very difficult problem indeed to solve, let us hope some sound and long lasting solution can be built from these ruins.

    Brexit by comparison should be a doddle. I see that Philip Hammond has said that:- Britain needs to have a “grown-up debate” about whether people are prepared to pay more tax to increase public spending amid a deepening Cabinet split. The Chancellor said that all voters need to consider the “serious question” of whether they are prepared accept higher taxes to ease austerity after “seven years of hard slog”.

    Austerity has not even been tried in the state sector. Staff here are paid (with pensions included) about 40-50% more than the private sector and with more sick pay, fewer hours, better conditions ……

    What is needed is for the private sector to be released from the government straight jacket and allowed to grow and for the state sector to be cut hugely. That is the only thing that will get the economy growing properly. Start by killing the greencrap, HS2, Hinkley C, this bonker tax increasing Taylor Review, the Swansea “lagoon”, the expensive energy religion.

    Also get some more fair competition in health and education rather than the dire state monopolies we have now.

    I see that the number of Welsh speakers is declining as sensibly few of the Welsh see much point in it. So the government there want a Welsh language target of one million speakers by 2050. Doubtless using vast sums of tax payers money for this indoctrination. An excellent area for a bit of sate sector austerity. If people want a hobby fine but let them pay for it themselves please.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      July 11, 2017

      LL The green energy crap is the biggest strangle hold for businesses in that the cost of energy is so high. In 7 years my bill has doubled so goodness knows what it is costing industry. Mrs May needs to get a grip and instead of slagging into Trump she should be joining him. He is the only leader that has a sensible approach to the energy needs for his country in terms of the economy and jobs. Anyone would think ministers would like this country to go to the dogs.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 12, 2017

        Indeed and it does not even save CO2 (even you you believe the CO2 devil gas pollution religion) – it just exports jobs and the CO2 emissions with them.

    2. stred
      July 11, 2017

      What a shame the Grand Central freight line was voted down in parliament as too expensive. Cameron went for HS2 instead, which was 5 times as expensive, for speed. Then it became capacity because the mix of freight and express trains was overloaded.

      The HS2 line follows the Grand Central for some of the way. Could we still save £40bn and get a lot of lorries off the motorways? Much too sensible and all those interests in the pipeline for probably a 100bn project with no hope of a return and needing permanent subsidy, while using a lot more energy, that we are trying to save elsewhere.

      1. stred
        July 11, 2017

        Mrs May was asking Labour for helpful ideas to find the money to be caring and compassionate and out of Junkerville. How about a revival of the freight line Jezza, like nearly happened when Ed Balls was showing a sign of common sense and Eural wanted his TENS project instead.

    3. Denis Cooper
      July 11, 2017

      Compared to Greece, and indeed also Ireland and some other countries, the UK has not really experienced anything that merits the description “austerity”. There have been some hard cases, not all intentional and some plain stupid, but by taking its time the UK government has managed to cut its budget deficit by three quarters without inflicting massive hardship overall.

      It’s worth recalling that a) in 2009 the Labour government was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending, and b) the process of deficit reduction could be gradual and controlled because unlike other EU countries the UK kept its own national currency issued by its own national central bank.

    4. Lifelogic
      July 11, 2017

      Mathew Taylor seem most concerned about the quality of jobs available, but his childish proposals will clearly make it worse. More lawyers, more admin, more people off sick, more red tape and worse productivity and pay is the result. His proposals seem mainly designed as another back door tax increase. Like the one Hammond was forces to U turn on. Thus helping to lose the majority.

      If Mr Taylor and Theresa May want to improve the quality of jobs perhaps they should resign and try setting up a business and employing some people themselves. They would learn a great deal in the process and we could perhaps get a real Conservative in charge.

      The only real protection for employees is more available jobs for them to choose from. Surely this is obvious even to May and Taylor?

      1. Lifelogic
        July 11, 2017

        He even wants three classes of working people, the self employed, the employed and something in the middle “dependent contractors” doubtless this will take hours of lawyers time to define and then hours of everyone else’s to see what it means. Then vast costs in the courts to set new precedents. What pointless & damaging complexity, but good news for essentially parasitic lawyers I suppose. What fools we have in government, actually making industry less profitable killing the tax base they feed off.

        Also why on earth should interns be illegal? If someone want to work for nothing what is the problem with that? What is the difference between a volunteer, a training course and an intern anyway?

        Please get the damn state out of the way and let business concentrate on doing business!

    5. Ed Mahony
      July 11, 2017

      I’ve worked in the private sector for many years, and i think you exaggerate the efficiency of the private sector.
      Sure, small, successful, start-ups are supremely efficient, but that efficiency begins to diminish the larger the company grows and you hand over power to others and bureaucracy creeps in, and in time, corporate monopolies develop and so on.
      And i think you underestimate intelligent, objective, soft government investment. I for one would like to see a lot more soft investment to help boost the high tech industry here in the UK.
      Also, that our work culture is European not American – for all kinds of reasons, cultural and historical.
      Lastly, reading so many of your comments, they seem over-ideological and lacking in pragmatism.
      We all know that socialists waste money and bureaucracy can be crippling. But I just think you go to the other extreme with hard capitalism only breeding excessive greed and individualism (i’m sure you don’t want that but that’s an unintended consequence of hard capitalism) which ironically is bad for business and the stability of the economy, but is also bad for people as well – their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health as well (all of which impacts on the economy, the cost of the NHS and social security and so on).
      And business and government isn’t all about logic. It’s also about creative, strategic and emotional intelligence as well.

    6. graham1946
      July 11, 2017

      Has any of this anything to do with Mosul? I don’t know how you get this stuff published time after time, day after day regardless of the subject matter.

  3. jonP
    July 11, 2017

    We must not forget that this whole sorry mess was kicked off by messrs Bush and Blair who lied through their teeth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The West has not yet learned that it is sometimes best to leave things alone including leaving strong men in positions of authority- even if they are cruelest despots of the worst kind.

    What we have left now is still Sunnai vs Shia with the Kurds trying to carve out their own stake in this part of old Iraq which in itself is going to start off another conflict with Turkey because that’s the last thing the Turks want- as far as I can see there’s no end in sight- it’s so depressing it’s hardly worth talking about.

    1. eeyore
      July 11, 2017

      Mr Blair and Mr Bush thought they could improve the world by ridding it of a very bad man, Saddam Hussein. Letting their private moralities decide their public actions, they sought to impose freedom and democracy at the barrel of an invader’s gun. The inevitable civil war that followed has cost something like half a million lives – estimates vary wildly – in a country of 20m people.

      Defeating ISIL won’t end Iraq’s agony. Civil wars commonly destroy about 10% of a country’s people. They are notoriously the most depraved of all conflicts and an Arab civil war is probably as bad as they get.

      Iraq is disparate and artificial, a natural candidate for a failed state, but one must hope that eventually a strongman will emerge capable of pulling it together. He will not be a nice person. In fact he will be much like Saddam, only far worse.

    2. Mark B
      July 11, 2017

      Not just Turkey, but Iran as well.

    3. Mitchel
      July 11, 2017

      The Iraqi Kurds have an independence referendum set for 25 September.Russia has been moving in,signing a number of oil expro,development and infrastructure deals with the regional government.Interestingly,the Barzani family that “rule” here are the same family that were involved in the establishment of the Soviet Republic of Mahabad,a short lived breakaway state in Northern Kurdish Iran in 1946,one of the events which kicked off the Cold War.Their leaders went into exile in the Soviet Union when it failed.

      While we have been given a romanticised view of the Kurds (and it’s a pity they do not have a homeland),I think we should refrain from thinking they are so very different from the other tribes of the Middle East.

  4. Duncan
    July 11, 2017

    To all intents and purposes Northern Iraq is Kurdistan and is governed by the KRG so the Iraqi Govt has very little influence in this region. From a sovereign perspective Iraq is a whole but in reality there a two nations in Iraq. Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region with its own parliament, its own laws, its own culture, its own arm, its own police force etc..

    And the situation in Iraq may become even more unstable should the Kurdistan Regional Govt declare independence following their vote for independence which is due very soon

    The US Congress has threatened to cut funding to the Peshmerga (army of the KRG) if the KRG declare independence. If this does happen then ISIL will be emboldened against a weaker enemy

    Make no bones about it, the KRG and the Iraqi Central Govt (ICG) despise each other so it is mistaken to believe that Iraq is a unified whole in the way we in the west understand it. It is deeply divided

    The presence of the US military is vital in holding all of this together.

    And of course all of this chaos, bloodshed and murder stems directly from the intervention of Bush and Blair in 2003. Their actions have unleashed a new murderous force in Islamic extremism and military Jihad whose presence and influence will be felt for decades to come

  5. Little Englander
    July 11, 2017

    This time we must learn from our mistakes and NOT get involved. Look and I say this with some impatience now – we can’t even get our own Province right let alone involve ourselves with fixing the unfixable in the M.E. Leave interference in other Countries instabilities whether Political or Commercial to others to resolve – we have other more important priorities within our Homeland to address. Whilst we are at it why does no one in Government heed the growing number of voices calling for a drastic cut in Overseas Aid? Oh yes got it – makes us look good as one of the 6 permanent members of the UN! Well the ‘heads up’ on that is we don’t need that either – strength comes from Global Commercial enterprise not political ambition – the latter nobody wins.

    1. Mitchel
      July 11, 2017

      We have Col Tim Collins(hasn’t he lived well off the back of one hackneyed speech years ago?) in today’s Telegraph : “Britain can be Iraq’s best and biggest ally as it strives for a peaceful future”.

      What utter tosh-by all means sell them stuff-if they can pay-but someone needs to tell him and the others in the defence and foreign policy establishments that the Empire has gone and cannot be brought back.In that region,the Iranians have been an imperial power off-and-on for thousands of years,the Turks for hundreds of years,with the Russians,as spiritual successors to the Byzantines,keeping a watching brief.Leave it to them.

  6. Anonymous
    July 11, 2017

    Islamic State is like Whack-a-Mole.

    This war is going to go on for ever.

  7. Mark B
    July 11, 2017

    Good morning.

    Civil Wars are the worst kind of wars as they pitch neighbour against neighbour with little chance of resolution when it is all over. The other issue is one of both religion and ‘outside actors’ fomenting trouble. Even when this is over, it will not, for many I am sure, be over.

    Can we please have a foreign policy that seeks to keep us out of these kinds of conflicts, as they are never ending ?

    Oh yes, they had to destroy the city – …..(ed)………..

    1. Mark B
      July 11, 2017

      You should have put, Ed to indicate that it was edited by you.

  8. jack Snell
    July 11, 2017

    To defeat nazism it took enormous effort and large armies. Then there was the problem of de-nazification of the whole central european continent to contend with and finally we eventually got there with the help of the EEC then the EU. So now we have a huge mess on our hands in Iraq, Syria and other middle eastern countries which will need the same effort if it is going to be sorted- otherwise we should forget about it and get it straight in our minds- ‘not my business’. To take the extremism out of ISIS is going to be the real problem. To take the extremism out of Islam is the key but with no central authority in Islam its going to be nigh impossible- all we can do is mind ourselves.

  9. alte fritz
    July 11, 2017

    Are there lessons to be learned from Ottoman times? Did they face the same problems, did they terrorise Mesopotamia into order or was there another way?

    1. Mitchel
      July 11, 2017

      I think by the time the Ottomans took over the regions of Anatolia and Mesopotamia had been heavily depopulated by centuries of near continuous warfare between first the Byzantines and the Persians,then the Arabs and the Byzantines,then the Turks and the Byzantines until the whole region was conquered by the Turks,who ,as I understand it,divided their subjects by religion rather than ethnicity.Google the “millet” system for further on how that worked.

    2. Prigger
      July 11, 2017

      The most important lesson to be learned from Ottoman times is that a proper armchair has a back and sides.

  10. Trumpeter
    July 11, 2017

    It is said today Trump’s visit is being put off to “next year” because of Bercow and two-million strong petition in which the Labour Party has been instrumental. Also the threat of “mass demonstrations”, again with more than enough help by Corbynistas.

    If our Head of State HM The Queen or our PM were subject to such abuse by the American government and people, I guess most people here would insist neither of them EVER visit the United States, and as to to a free trade deal….they could stick it right up their Mississippi.

    Americans have had such broad shoulders in taking British insults. Your sons go over in two world wars, get criticised for being “two years late ” and get their heads blown off and now this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Anonymous
      July 11, 2017

      Hopefully Mr Trump sees that 63 million *didn’t* sign the petition.

      I despair and we’d better get that trade deal before he’s gone.

      Also – Mrs May. She keeps trying to do Brexit by consensus. We’ve had the delay to the letter, time for Miller to take it through court, then Parliament – and after that was won then a general election to ‘affirm’ Brexit (mandate lost), now an approach to Labour for yet more consensus.

      This is pathetic.

      We have a dead duck PM. What a disaster.

      Brexit has been sabotaged by the appointment of a half hearted PM who doesn’t really want it and my, can’t we tell.

  11. fedupsoutherner
    July 11, 2017

    Whatever happens it is their country now and we must not interfere. They must be allowed to sort out their problems the way they see fit. This has been the trouble in the past. We want the middle east to live their lives the way we do and their culture is completely different. Stay out of it.

  12. Epikouros
    July 11, 2017

    For states with little or no history of democracy and are heavily influenced by strict and conservative religious doctrine it was unwise of the West to use their power to help to unseat existing regimes however nasty they may seem in our eyes. Then to attempt to impose western style democracy as it was never going to work as envisaged. All that is accomplished is either to replace one tyranny with another and/or cause civil conflict. Perhaps that is the object and/or at least to put in place regimes more amenable to us than the previous one. Was the effort worth it considering the consequences? A considerable argument in favour of leaving well alone and not to put our nose into other people business.

    ISIL and it’s like are not a new phenomena or a result of Western aggression and interference in Islamic states affairs. However it does have propaganda value in recruiting members to more austere forms of that religion that make up these jihadist and terrorist groups. Internecine warfare between moderate and hard line Muslims has always been a way of life in the Islamic world. Ever since the Balfour declaration the West has constantly stirred this Islamic hornets nest. So it should be no surprise if we now find that in retaliation we are being so often attacked and stung.

  13. Prigger
    July 11, 2017

    How do Iraqis earn a living in places such as Mosul? It is never explained in our media. No factories and a dry desert. It is a mystery why ISIS wish to live there. Perhaps it’s the quiet.

  14. Bert Young
    July 11, 2017

    There’s not a lot left of Mosul from the evidence on the media . Frankly , it should be left as it is as a monument to evil . Whether Iraq can ever overcome its tribal warfare is a huge question – certainly there is nothing that outside influences can do to overcome this . History over a long period of time has exposed the Middle East as an uncontrollable area ; we must keep our fingers clean and not get involved .

    1. stred
      July 11, 2017

      We could help the Iraqis and Syrians re-build their devastated cities by sending the several thousand unemployed Isis supporters in the UK on a sort of community service or VSO. Equipped with shovel and trowels and a tag. It would be good for them to know what this sort of thing leads to. Part of the foreign aid package could be used, instead of building new ports in the wrong end of Africa. The locals would be pleased to have them put things right and there would be less risk going out on a Saturday night in London and Manchester.

    2. St. Obvious
      July 11, 2017

      Bert Young
      Please look to bombings in WWI and WWII and the rest of it. Our history before and since.
      “Mosul…….Frankly , it should be left as it is as a monument to evil .”
      Dresden, Coventry, Hull, Liverpool, London, Berlin, Sheffield, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Cologne, Teeside,Nagasaki, Hiroshima …..
      Bert, The Evil is HERE!!!!! It does not mean you and I are evil or our government is evil but evil disguises itself and kills wherever, ALL life!

  15. Bob
    July 11, 2017

    “with irreconcilable communities feeling the central government does not speak for them”

    mmm ! sounds familiar.

  16. bigneil
    July 11, 2017

    Will we ever hear that “Britain has been recaptured from the EU”?

  17. Denis Cooper
    July 11, 2017

    Off-topic, it’s a pity this useful chap David Jones is no longer in government; perhaps David Davis could bring him back in to run a media communications and rapid rebuttal unit for his department. He sure needs somebody effective to do that or he (and we) will continue to lose the propaganda war.

    “We can’t pick and choose the bits of EU membership we like – so with Brexit must come withdrawal from Euratom”

    “Withdrawal from Euratom was therefore not a question of stubborn absolutism on the part of the Prime Minister over submission to the jurisdiction of the CJEU. It was, rather, an inevitable legal consequence of the decision of the British people to withdraw from the EU. The only legal means of effecting withdrawal is by serving an Article 50 notice, which, as illustrated above, also has the automatic effect of withdrawing from Euratom.”

    Which is also what the EU’s lawyers insist is the case.

    Of course withdrawal from the Euratom treaty itself does not preclude the UK from seeking a sensible new affiliation agreement with its members to ensure that the UK will still participate in at least the most important activities. That’s unless the governments of those other countries, supposedly our friends and allies, are happy to see cancer patients dying in the UK because existing arrangements come to an abrupt halt.

    1. stred
      July 11, 2017

      Given that serving A50 made leaving Euratom inevitable, it would have been better not to state that we were leaving separately or at the very least tell all interested that it is in our interests to be members, as are other non-EU countries, and that we would re-join. This would have avoided misunderstandings and ant-Brexit propaganda. Not very smart management from the civil servant now carping, or anybody else in the team.

      Reply The legal advice was that the government had to withdraw at the same time as it is part of the EU package. There are overarching world standards and a world safety system which we will remain committed to.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 12, 2017

        But that is not what the Remoaners say, JR, they say that cancer patients will die thanks to Theresa May’s obduracy. And even then the government, most notably David Davis’s department, cannot be bothered to reply and make sure that the truth prevails. I would be grateful if you could ask him why he is so complacent that he sees false criticisms being hurled at the government day after day but does nothing to rebut any of it.

        Just take a look at the website of his department:

        It’s feeble when it should be vigorously making the case for Brexit.

  18. Mike Wilson
    July 11, 2017

    I wonder if I am the only person who, as I get older, find I really don’t give a toss about what happens in Mosul. The world is a nuthouse and many countries are run by nutters. Why we concern ourselves with them I don’t know. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to make one slightly ‘down’.

    1. Jerome K Jerome
      July 11, 2017

      Mike Wilson
      Off camera , I think the United Kingdom is behind you one hundred per cent.

    2. Ed Mahony
      July 11, 2017

      I’m only in my 40’s and I couldn’t give a toss about Brexit in the sense of all this hassle – for what? Streets paved with gold at the end of the day? Hardly.
      What I do care about are the following:
      1. We pay off our national debt as soon as possible
      2. We try and reform the EU
      3. That our country is united, people get on, we have a good arts scene. Things like that.
      The irony is that people are turning Brexit into a religion as if it’s going to lead to some kind of Nirvana when most of those who voted Brexit, are much closer to pushing daisies than the younger voters. And so in the big picture, the hassle of Brexit all seems a bit much ado about nothing / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more.

      Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
      And then is heard no more: it is a tale
      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
      Signifying nothing.

      (Personally, i think life amounts to something, but Brexit really doesn’t amount to anything significant in the big picture of things).

      1. Mike Wilson
        July 12, 2017


        I only gave a toss about Brexit because I believed we were being led by successive generations of politicians into an autocracy. I don’t think you can have a united country, with a good arts scene etc. if you don’t have a strong democracy. It’s only a matter of time before the EU seeks to centralise tax raising and control each country’s spending. At that point you can kiss democracy goodbye.

        The rest is just noise as far as I am concerned. People and businesses trade. Governments can get in the way but can’t stop it. We’ll still be buying goods from BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Ford, Vauxhall, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Skoda, Seat, Volvo, Bosch, Siemens, Neff, AEG, Zanussi etc. etc. and people in the EU will still buy goods and services from us. I haven’t got the energy to be bothered about that. I am bothered about the divisions in the country now. There seems to be a lot of nastiness around – particularly from ‘Remainers’ who keep calling Brexit supporters idiots.

  19. Briton
    July 11, 2017

    It is Cow Appreciation Day today 11th july. Americans too are celebrating and I guess the Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians would if they knew about it. However, I feel Europeans, particularly the Germans and French are unlikely to see the absolute seriousness of it and will be glancing one to the other in confusion. They are not like us.

  20. Terry
    July 11, 2017

    It occurs to me that a way to retain peace in Iraq is to sub-divide the whole country into autonomous regions It was very tribal before Saddam took over and that is the way it looks now.
    They will need help, hopefully from the Muslim Gulf States who must prefer a stable Iraq as a neighbour.
    Oil fields will of course be a problem but if the Iraqis cannot sort out a new life between themselves there won’t be much hope for a peaceful future for their children.

  21. ian
    July 11, 2017

    Who next.

  22. Anonymous
    July 11, 2017

    Clone Saddam Hussain and Muammar Gaddafi. Put them back. Their removal has been an unmitigated disaster.

  23. Sgt Major ( Brit )
    July 11, 2017

    Mosul was captured by the American army shortly before Saddam Hussein fell. US troops should be given more combat training as they do not seem to have hung onto the glorious victory. Spade and shovel exercises in “digging-in” should be the watchword of the American army, with an additional command of, Stay Awake!
    Modern training of youngsters makes use of dance exercises. If American troops were taught to do a simple pirouette , it may stand them in good stead in keeping the eye on the ball so to speak

  24. Wwiter
    July 11, 2017

    The BBC, CNN and Sky News readily admit that finding a good journalist is a great problem. They should be urged to end broadcasting altogether until they can employ one.

  25. Norman
    July 11, 2017

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with the general sentiment here, that we should stay out of this – unless, as a nation, we really have abdicated any sense of purpose on the world stage. We may not of course be able to deliver the power and influence of 100 years ago, but if we still stand for anything noble, we should contribute as best we can. I have not read Col Collins article, but I do know something of the ministry of Canon Andrew White, the Anglican Bishop of Baghdad (as he is known). There are many fine people in those lands, including vulnerable minorities who are otherwise at the mercy of brutal factions. Along with the Americans, I believe we should do what we can. For the same reason, I do not agree that removing Sadam was a total mistake, as so many now claim. I believe there was much more to this than meets the eye. Time will tell.

  26. Lindsay McDougall
    July 14, 2017

    Regarding Iraq, how much territory will the Kurds be allowed and what share in government will the Sunni minority be allowed? There seems little point in rebuilding towns if they are going to be destroyed again by another war. Hopefully, everyone is now war weary and willing to compromise. In Northern Ireland, the process took about 30 years and the settlement doesn’t look too stable.

    Regarding Syria, there is a reasonably contiguous government held territory, three Sunni anti-government enclaves, an area occupied by Kurds whom the Turks want to oust, an area occupied by the Turks and an ISIS rump centred on Raqqa. How on earth will peace be possible once ISIS has been defeated?

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