As the self-proclaimed Islamic State retreats further north in Iraq, they have left behind a wake of damage and destruction and a population facing hunger and the cold Iraqi winter.
The operation to retake Mosul is part of a broader power struggle between Baghdad and Ankara over spheres of influence in northern Iraq.
Despite the small but important military victory in Ramadi, Iraqi forces still face significant challenges fighting the Islamic State in Anbar and reining in Shia militias in Diyala and Basra.
Abadi’s reforms have been mischaracterized both in terms of their content and the reasons driving opposition to them.
Any effort to retake Mosul from the Islamic State would face military and political obstacles that may be too significant to overcome.
The political rise of the Badr Organization and its leader, Hadi al-Ameri, is paving the way for a garrison state in Iraq.
Despite their mixed military record, Iraq’s Shia militias are growing in public standing in the wake of Ramadi.
Sunni tribal disagreements over the role of the Popular Mobilization Forces—which have so far prevented developing a broader security strategy against the Islamic State—might change in the aftermath of Ramadi.
The Iraqi government’s military stumbles gave Iran-aligned militias a chance to push back, but for now Prime Minister Abadi holds on.
Amid the fight against the Islamic State, Iraq is witnessing another struggle for power between Abadi’s nationalist Shia factions and Iranian-backed militias.
If Iraqi parties cannot agree on a unified vision for the National Guard, options will remain limited for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State.
Plans to build a national guard force risk widening sectarian divisions in Iraq and pushing more Sunnis toward the Islamic State.
Maliki’s alienation of Sunni actors is at the heart of ISIS’s success in Iraq.
Fears stemming from the radicalization of Iraq’s Sunni population could propel Maliki into an unpopular third term.
Has al-Maliki miscalculated in his rapprochement with Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq?