RELEASE: U.S. Must Begin to Plan Now for Day After Defeat of Islamic State in Iraq
Washington, D.C. — Over the last two years, the United States has spent billions to defeat the Islamic State, or IS, in Iraq. The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL has taken back half of the area that IS controlled at the start of the campaign and is now poised to liberate the city of Mosul in the coming months. But efforts to stabilize towns and villages liberated from IS are lagging dangerously behind coalition military operations.
The Center for American Progress has released a report today calling on the United States and the rest of the counter-ISIL coalition to accelerate stabilization efforts and increase support to the Iraqi government to help meet the needs of Iraqi communities in the wake of combat operations. These efforts include the resumption of electricity, running water, health care, and other critical services and programs to jump-start local reconciliation.
“The coalition has made impressive military gains against the Islamic State in Iraq, but military victory is only half the battle,” said Hardin Lang, CAP Senior Fellow and co-author of the report. “The communities once ruled by IS must be integrated back into Iraq. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the coalition must do more to help the Iraqi government fill that vacuum.”
“At the end of the day, it will be up to the Iraqis to rebuild their country and give all communities a stake in the future of the country through more inclusive politics,” said Muath Al Wari, CAP Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “But the members of the coalition can help set the Iraqis up for success. Failure to do so would set the stage for IS—or the son of IS—to return.”
To date, stabilization has not been fully integrated into the wider campaign to defeat IS in Iraq. Efforts to meet the needs of civilians in liberated communities have suffered from a lack of resources and leadership. They have also been undercut by tensions between the government in Baghdad and key donor countries in the Gulf. The pledging conference held in Washington, D.C., on July 20 was an important step in the right direction. But more work remains to be done.
The report makes the following recommendations for the United States and its coalition partners:
- Strengthen leadership for stabilization and integrate it into other coalition lines of effort.
- Strengthen U.S. bilateral support for stabilization.
- Undertake U.S. diplomatic regional outreach to reduce tensions between Baghdad and the Gulf states and build support for stabilization.
- Develop a “day after” plan to govern Mosul before military liberation.
- Undertake a strategic review of the drivers of displacement and instability.
- Accelerate the disbursement of donor pledges and strengthen the capacity to implement on the ground.
Click here to read the report.