The Middle East has long been a breeding ground for insurgencies and terrorist organizations alike. Groups and organizations spanning from the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Lebanese Hezbollah, Taliban, and nearly an infinite list of splinter organizations have had disputes over everything from religion to territory for years and will likely continue to do so. Most recently, the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) or the Arabic acronym of Da'ish), has burst on scene and made lasting impacts on Iraq, Syria, and throughout the greater Levant.
In June 2014, ISIL seemingly came out of nowhere and has now grown to become a major force in the Middle East, more specifically in Iraq and Syria. The organization became especially prominent following its lightning-swift military advance over northern Iraq, where it encountered an abysmally low level of government resistance (Terrill 2014). With that being said, ISIL's hold on the region has recently been on the decline with territorial losses mounting in key areas along the Euphrates River Valley, the Tigris River Valley, and Northern Syria, with current operations threatening their capitals in both Raqqah and Mosul. Up to this point in time, the predominance of research and analysis has been carried out to figure out how to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State. Governments of the 50+ Coalition nations from around the world that are participating in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE have seemingly put an infinite amount of time, money, and effort in the overall strategy of how to beat ISIL…which is, if you follow the news, still a plan very much so in the works.
This paper, however, will not attempt to highlight ways in which Coalition forces can further degrade and defeat ISIL, as there has been an abundance of data published on the subject. This paper will attempt to provide insight into a topic most have not yet thoroughly considered…what happens after ISIL is gone? This paper will explore the challenging situations presented after the war on ISIL is over, specifically between the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). These decisions made after ISIL is dispelled from Iraq will have lasting effects on more than Iraq; they will drastically impact the entirety of the Middle East.