Meanwhile, back in Mosul… nothing. (I hate to say this, but I told you so.)
Dr. iRack has put forth two rival theories about the timing of the operation:
Hypothesis 1: Maliki is strutting his stuff. According to this narrative, which is likely to be the dominant one coming out of MNF-I and the Iraqi government, Maliki has clearly reached a new level of confidence. After initially stumbling in Basra, he managed to turn things around there (with a little Iranian help), and his willingness to go after Shia militants has built up a reservoir of political capital with Sunnis. According to this view, with clashes in Sadr City winding down as a consequence of reaching a ceasefire favorable to the Iraqi government, Maliki is striking while the iron is hot, exploiting his new found cross-sectarian support to go after Sunni groups affiliated with AQI up north.
Hypothesis 2: Maliki needs the troops. Whereas the first hypothesis sees Basra and Sadr City as enabling Mosul, a second theory reverses the causality and suggests that Sadr City was a constraint on Mosul–a constraint that had to be ended before moving on AQI. This line of thinking would suggest that Sadr City had become a quagmire that could not be resolved militarily and was absorbing Iraqi army assets that were needed up north. According to this view, Maliki settled on a ceasefire that was favorable to Sadr to free up resources to shift to Mosul.
Lemme add one more:
- 3. With Sadr City going down the crapper, Maliki needs anything to call a victory. Sending the army out on a cordon and search operation in a city already suffused with Iraqi troops, kicking down some doors and making easy arrests based on tipoff lists, will give him something to brag about. Of course, this is far from a “showdown”, nor will one ever take place, at least not in Mosul, but as long as the drama-hungry media swallows the hook, these non-events keep happening. Too bad for Mosul, but hey, who cares.