Speaking today on the ongoing ISIS war, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi complained that “the Americans were very pessimistic in creating their timetable to defeat ISIS,” going out of his way to contradict a claim by the US commander that the war would take at least two more years.
Abadi sees the war ending much sooner, insisting ISIS will be defeated within the next three months. This, like previous Iraqi timelines, appears extremely ambitious, as at the current pace the Iraqi invasion of Mosul probably won’t be finished within three months, let alone the mop up of the entire country.
Of course the US two year estimate also included defeating ISIS in Syria, and Abadi is talking about simply Iraq. Both are presenting victory as inevitable, despite the gains against ISIS having ground to a virtual halt in recent weeks.
The Abadi government had previously suggested ISIS would be totally defeated by the end of 2016, though clearly that’s no longer going to happen, and they’ve had to move the bar back a few months. Though Iraq has “liberated” several cities from ISIS over the course of the year, those cities have all been badly damaged, and the sectarian tensions that gave rise to ISIS taking over much of western Iraq in the first place are in no way resolved.
Either way, the Pentagon has indicated that the “end” of the ISIS war won’t mean the US troops will be leaving Iraq, and that they intend to remain on a more or less permanent basis. This makes defining an actual end somewhat less significant, allowing officials to claim an earlier victory since the war is going to continue on anyhow.