In Mosul, the End Is the Beginning

MIN READOct 18, 2016 | 08:00 GMT

Iraqi men protest the presence of Turkish troops near the city of Mosul. Though the battle to retake the city from the Islamic State is just beginning, Turkey's campaign for control of Mosul began nearly a century ago.


"Tell me how this ends" is a familiar presidential refrain. U.S. President Barack Obama used it often throughout his administration to justify his policy of restraint in the Middle East, troubled by the second- and third-order effects of deepening any intervention to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State. The next U.S. president will have to make the same solicitation next year. By then, Mosul will likely have been wrested away from the militant group. But the question of whether to widen the scope of the United States' activities in Syria -- from counterterrorism to taking down the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad -- will loom as large as ever....

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