Defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq requires a two-pronged strategy: military and political. On the military front, the Iraqi army must be rebuilt into a professional force that can retake and hold territory. This includes both the training of new recruits and the retraining of existing forces. Additionally, the Iraqi government must convince the Sunni population to turn against ISIL, which will require addressing their grievances and ensuring their inclusion in the political process.

The US-led coalition’s air campaign has helped to halt ISIL’s advance, but it is not enough to defeat them. Ground forces are necessary to retake and hold territory. The Iraqi army has been struggling to perform this role, due in part to a lack of professional training and discipline. The US has been providing training and support, but progress has been slow.

Politically, the Iraqi government must address the grievances of the Sunni population. Many Sunnis feel marginalised and persecuted by the Shia-led government, and this has driven some to support ISIL. The government must ensure that Sunnis are included in the political process and that their rights are protected. This will require significant political will and compromise from all sides.

The battle against ISIL in Iraq is not just a military one; it is also a political one. Without addressing both aspects, victory will remain elusive.

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