Led by 5,000 US soldiers with state-of-the-art weaponry, an Iraqi coalition force of more than 100,000 soldiers has failed to defeat 9,000 Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists, half of them untrained teenagers.
The reason? Hoping to leave office with a military win under his belt, US President Obama issued a presidential order to capture Mosul by the end of December. As it became apparent that this deadline was unlikely to be realized, US leadership of the op sunk into swamps of vascillation. In its absence, Iraqi troops assessed the situation. With only a tenth of their objective achieved, and sans USA carpe diem chutzpah, they lost heart.
Publicly, Baghdad continues to put an optimistic face of the Mosul op, announcing "new progress" and "new fronts." This according to the Israeli intelligence news service, DEBKAfile, which is also the primary source for this report.
Contrary to Baghdad's bravado, the reality is virtual surrender. The Kurdish Peshmerga component of the coalition removed itself three weeks ago. With them, an estimated 40,000 troops were gone. In their wake, and without the testosterone of US hoorah optimism, DEBKAfile reports "the Iraqi army has come to a virtual standstill and does nothing more than exchange fire with ISIS fighters."
Simply put, only nine weeks since it began, the US-led operation has failed. Proof of failure rolled into town two days ago. On Sunday, 4 December, a delegation of ISIS leadership openly drove into Mosul without resistance. And, says DEBKAfile, they traveled "unhindered" all the way from Raqqa in Syria.
Watching their leaders cruise in, ISIS fighters who abandoned the city in the attack's early days also returned; they too walked in without a fight.
Meanwhile in Syria, the Russian-led coalition of Syrian-Hezbollah-Iranian troops has pulverized whole swaths of Aleppo where ISIS had a stronghold. In spite of an incalculable cost of human suffering and death, and with attending Western horror, Moscow is beating ISIS. Already looking beyond Aleppo, it is preparing to uproot ISIS in southern Syria, toward Damascus and close to Israel's border.
In the machismo culture of the Middle East, Russia's rising star is shining brighter than ever.
Meanwhile in the US Pentagon, plans are being drafted to reignite the Mosul op. But not for another six and a-half weeks. When they are drafted, says DEBKAfile, Pentagon strategists send them straight to "pending trays" where they await decisions by a new President, Donald J. Trump, and his new Defense Secretary, General James Mattis.
One concern in Israel is that Trump, an apparent admirer of Russian President Vladamir Putin, might tell him to carry on and eradicate ISIS in Iraq as well Syria, doing so with Moscow's coalition of rabidly anti-Israel Iranian troops.