The battle for Mosul

The fight to recover the Iraqi city of Mosul from occupying Islamic State (IS) began with skirmishes on the approaches to Mosul on 16 October 2016. The battle for Mosul city itself is likely to be protracted and could result in large numbers of civilian casualties.

Many interests are involved - notably Sunni, Shia, American, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Turkish, as well of course as those of IS and its supporters. When Mosul falls it will leave enormous problems for the Iraqi government of re-housing refugees and rebuilding infrastructure, as well as difficult negotiations about who will control the city.

Australia is a peripheral player. RAAF aircraft could be participating in air strikes, while Australian soldiers have been training Iraqi troops who might become involved. It is likely that some of our SAS personnel are integrated into American advisor teams with frontline Iraqi units. There are ongoing concerns in Australia about whether Australian forces should still be involved in Iraq and whether we should continue to follow the US into open-ended commitments that many would argue do not engage our core strategic interests.

Professor Williams will examine the various competing interests, how the battle might develop, and likely outcomes.

About the speaker 

Professor Clive Williams MG is an Honorary Professor at the ANU Law Faculty's Centre for Military and Security Law and a Visiting Fellow at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He is a former Australian Army officer and former Defence intelligence officer. He has been following developments in Iraq since the 1970s.