By Patrick Martin and ISW Iraq Team
Key Take-Away: Turkey deployed “hundreds” of troops with armored vehicles northeast of Mosul on December 4, drawing outrage from the Iraqi government and Shi’a political parties. Turkey deployed forces near Mosul in a KDP-controlled area likely to ensure its immediate influence over anti-ISIS operations and thereby its long term influence within Mosul. The Turkish deployment coincided with high tension in Baghdad over the planned deployment of up to 200 U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Iraq, announced on December 1, intended to target ISIS leaders directly. PM Abadi is facing intense pressure from other Shi’a political parties and Iranian-backed militias on account of both deployments. Some Shi’a parties asserted that the CoR, not the Prime Minister should approve foreign deployments. The Badr Organization raised the possibility of a no-confidence vote in PM Abadi. These measures will restrict PM Abadi’s ability to engage the U.S.-led coalition, the intended effect of Iranian-led forces in Iraq that seek to align Iraq with the Russian-Iranian coalition. Meanwhile, ISIS deployed mobile defenses against the ISF in Ramadi’s environs, demonstrating the continued ability to conduct attacks in the area despite recent gains by the ISF. A decisive ISF-led operation to clear Ramadi is essential for PM Abadi to exercise independence from Iran. ISIS’s resilience in Iraq remains a major obstacle.