In the waning days of Obama’s presidency, his grand strategy to wipe out ISIS by taking Mosul has gone from an ingenious weaving of various coalition members fighting under American leadership to a failed slog as the advance of Iraqi forces grinds to a halt. The battle turned after Iraqi forces entered the Golgali neighborhood. They have been stuck there fighting a far more ferocious enemy than they imagined. Each day they take to advance mere inches the American backed Iraqi units’ morale lowers, giving ISIS an increasing edge in Mosul. Before Golgali, experts gave ISIS weeks, but now it looks like months if not more.
Compounding the strategy is the fact Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the self appointed caliph of ISIS is no longer there. Despite his absence he continues to inspire all of ISIS through the airwaves. One mission for coalition forces was to take the Nouree Al Kaber mosque early on. This is the mosque where Baghdadi proclaimed himself the leader of the caliphate 30 months ago. Coalition forces still have a long way to go in getting close to the mosque, a destination that would crush the morale of ISIS if Iraqi troops succeeded in reaching it.
With the multi ethnic coalition collapsing and the Iraqi forces unable to break ISIS, Obama’s waning days in office are a nightmare. Passing off ISIS to Trump is admitting failure, but with weeks to go it has become clear that Trump and Putin will attempt to work together to destroy ISIS in both Al-Raqqa and Mosul. Then again, ISIS may show to be just resilient to the new administration as they have been with Obama.