Hadi Mohammadi, a senior expert on regional affairs, has weighed in on the ISIS realignment and the US-led coalition’s role in supporting them to revive their presence in the region, particularly along Iran’s borders.
Here is the full text of the opinion piece published in Javan daily newspaper:
During the past three years, the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria has run with the hare and hunted with the hound to provide ISIS with new opportunities to operate along Iraq and Syria borders.
The creation of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Iraq following a religious decree (fatwa) issued by top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani started the countdown for ISIS in the country. This prompted the US to change its regional strategy to hamper the trend of ISIS’ elimination in the region. But the strategy ended up in failure in the face of the great military potential as well as determination of the PMU forces and Iraqi army. So, the US shamelessly began to help ISIS terrorists realign or flee from battlefields against Iraqi forces in the cities of Fallujah, Samarra, Mosul as well as the Anbar province.
With the liberation of Mosul in northern Iraq, which is strategically similar to Aleppo in Syria, the US changed its military strategy and began to push ISIS members towards the Peshmerga-held regions in Iraqi Kurdistan region. Then ISIS militants went in groups towards the north in Erbil and Dohuk. Even during the liberation operation of Hawija, hundreds of ISIS terrorists fled the battlefield and turned themselves in along with their family members to Peshmerga fighters.
Reports by Russia’s intelligence forces indicate the US has equipped some groups of ISIS militants with new weapons and dispatched them to Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Iraq’s Qa’im to hinder the progress of the Iraqi and Syrian armies towards the ISIS-held areas. But as things stand, the US long-term strategy after the elimination of ISIS in the region is to establish a new apparatus composed of experienced ISIS members to create instability in Iraq and other regional states like Iran.
The new apparatus will be managed by the US and the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani. They will use the group as leverage against Iran, Iraq, and Turkey which are against the secession of Kurdistan region from Iraq.
Today, ISIS has turned into an operational group at the hands of the US and KRG government who use it to pave the way for the division of the region with terrorist measures.
The diplomatic and security organizations of Iran, Turkey, and Iraq have already put coordination of their military, economic, and legal efforts against ISIS on top of their agenda. But in addition to the coordination, they also need to put together a comprehensive plan for legal preemptive measures against the ISIS hideouts in Kurdistan region. It goes without saying that the US and KRG are going to take advantage of the ISIS terrorists’ capacities in line with those of PKK and other Kurdish terrorist groups in the region.
The strategy has turned into a significant issue for the regional countries following reports that the US President, Donald Trump, is trying to use the new ISIS apparatus to inflict a heavy blow on Iran’s military presence in Iraq and Syria via starting a new proxy war in the region.