Baghdad- Obama’s administration has apparently waived its interest in the Iraqi matter, compared to his predecessor Georges W. Bush. Yet, the delayed U.S. intervention to combat terrorism in the Mosul battle is strongly linked to political targets.
The battle of Mosul enjoys a symbolic significance for ISIS, which has considered the city the capital of its caliphate where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressed his first Friday prayer’s speech one week after Mosul’s invasion; for Iraqis who have considered it as the field of their battle; and the United States who has sought to eliminate Baghdadi to satisfy Hillary Clinton. Observers see that this mission is the best award that will qualify Clinton to return to the White House she left one decade ago, when she was its first lady.
To fulfill its goal, the United States will use Qayara air base, which is the most important amidst the new arrangement in Iraq and the division of interests between Moscow and Washington. It is also worth mentioning that Qayara air base is located between Tikrit and Mosul and embraces oil wells, old refinery, arms storages, military camps, and residential areas.
Earlier this year, an Iraqi politician told Asharq Al-Awsat that USA has launched the rehabilitation of the air base by awarding a number of contracts of construction and equipment to foreign companies according to agreements that took place in Kuwait. He added that the 101 Airborne Division will settle there and that new equipment which is being used for the first time by the U.S. army will be stocked there as well.
The Iraqi politician noted that the visit of Ashton Carter, secretary of defense, one day after the liberation of the air base from ISIS’s control comes as part of the U.S. interest in it.
The U.S. forces used the base for the first time after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then returned it to the Iraqi government in 2010 when they were preparing for their withdrawal.
ISIS controlled it in June 2014 during its wide attack in the north western part of the country and led it to occupy Mosul.
The air base’s strategic significance made it a priority for the for the U.S. forces, while priorities of the Iraqi government led by Dr. Haider Al-Abadi is to focus on liberating Mosul.
In spite that Abadi’s government and many other popular sides prefer not to build U.S. bases in their country, observers see that the need for the United States’ support in combating ISIS oblige Iraqis to loosen tights with USA.
Osama al-Nujaifi, prominent Sunni leader in Mosul told Asharq Al-Awsat that the priority of the city’s residents is the federalization based on administrative and not sectarian basis. However, other Sunni figures like Misha’an al-Juburi, MP for Saladin has seen that the Iraqi people can never accept federalization.
From its part, Washington has decided to send 560 soldiers to Qayara air base preparing for Mosul’s battle to secure Hillary Clinton’s interests. The U.S. administration has also dispatched many important delegations to Baghdad like the Secretary of Defense, Spokesman of the International Coalition, and many others to prepare for the upcoming battle.
Saad al-Hadithi, the Iraqi government spokesperson said that the U.S. interest in liberating Mosul has been emphasized by the continuous support provided by Washington, which considered that Abadi is its partner in combating terrorism.
Qayara’s strategic role
According to the New York Times, the U.S. military leaders intend to use the air base as an airport to provide logistical support to Iraqi forces that advance toward Mosul, in addition to experts in infrastructure. The newspaper also reported that the USA will start using developed Apache in the battle in September.
The strategic location of this air base between Saladin and Mosul will play the main role in the coming battles with ISIS especially that Iraqi forces have recently succeeded in recapturing many regions that surrounds the base.