Abstract: The operation to liberate Mosul has hit delays due to limited advanced preparations, ISIL resistance, weather conditions, and the inherent challenges of waging a war inside a city. The hopes of scoring a quick victory in Mosul are fading away. There will be slow progress in the elimination of the ISIL threat, and this will in turn complicate the issue of the settlement of refugees. The delay of the success of the operation is encouraging the provision of an official status for al-Hashd al-Sha’bi in Iraq, a new political dynamic in the country. Giving al-Hashd al-Sha’bi an official status will have wide-ranging political and security implications for the future of Iraq. A successful integration of al-Hashd al-Sha’bi into the Iraqi armed forces may contribute to the security of Iraq, but there are certain political and practical hurdles on the way.

The Mosul operation that began in October 2016 went well for some time, but the latest news from the operation has shown that ISIL resistance is hampering attempts at moving further. There are several reasons for this: urban operations are especially difficult and there was insufficient preparation for the operation. The attempt to acquire official status for al-Hashd al-Sha’bi should be interpreted in relation to setbacks in the Mosul operation. Along with the military operations taking place, legal and political actions over the future of Mosul and Iraq are hot topics in Iraqi politics today. At this juncture, it is worth assessing the Mosul operation and possible scenarios for Iraq in the aftermath of the operation.