Last week, the Obama Administration announced a bold plan to take back Mosul from ISIS this spring. It may already have already suffered a major setback, as one of America’s leading regional allies said “not so fast.” Al Monitor reports:
The Iraqi Kurds were “surprised” by last week’s US Central Command announcement that an attack on Mosul could take place in April or May, their new representative to the United States told reporters on Feb. 26. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman cautioned that the Iraqi army wouldn’t be ready and that Sunni tribes weren’t united in how to deal with the aftermath if Iraqi forces do manage to take back Iraq’s second largest city.“I have to say I and my colleagues were surprised by the announcement by the US that there might be a spring offensive on Mosul,” Abdul Rahman said. The plan, which was laid out for reporters last week, calls for a force of about 25,000 troops, including three Kurdish brigades although they would not be at the “tip of the spear.”
Congressional leaders added that they shared the Kurdish assessment:
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., agreed that the Iraqi army won’t be ready by spring after collapsing under assault from IS last June.“I’ve heard that everywhere. That’s why I was so astounded at the Centcom comment that they would be ready in a couple of months,” McCain told Al-Monitor. “Every estimate that I’ve heard is that it was far greater than that.”
If true, this is significant. It’s controversial enough that the United States announced an assault in advance, giving a dangerous forewarning to the enemy. But if it was done without first consulting one of the major forces that’s expected to assist?Kurdish-Iraqi games are nothing new, and there may well be something more at play here. But if Erbil wasn’t warned—and if it, or Baghdad, isn’t ready to help—then this takes “leading from behind” to a new level.