IRBIL, Iraq — After almost nine months of fierce fighting, the campaign to recapture Mosul from ISIS is drawing to a bitter end in the ruins of the city’s historic quarter, but the struggle for Iraq’s future is far from over.
Aside from Mosul, across the border in Syria a battle is raging to dislodge ISIS from Raqqa, the second capital of its self-declared caliphate. Fighting will push down the Euphrates valley to Deir al-Zour, the jihadis’ last big urban stronghold.
But the fall of Mosul also exposes ethnic and sectarian fractures that have plagued Iraq for more than a decade.
The victory risks triggering new violence between Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories or between Sunnis and Shi’ites over claims to power, egged on by outside powers that have shaped Iraq’s future since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni minority-rule and brought the Iran-backed Shi’ite majority to power.