Tensions between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds could now flare up —and prime minister Haider al-Abadi knows it
• Jonathan Steele is a former Guardian correspondent
It is widely accepted that Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul, declared this weekend, ends a battle but not a war, and that the group’s thousands of jihadi supporters could turn in revenge to targeted suicide bombings in the west as well as in cities in Iraq and Syria. What has been less often predicted is the risk of mass violence from a different quarter. Iraqis themselves may slip back into fraternal conflict now that their temporary need to unite against Isis is almost over.
Three years of war against the Islamist extremists created a national sense of urgency which overcame regional, ethnic and sectarian disputes. But with Isis now on the back foot, and deprived of most of the territory it once held throughout western Iraq, old tensions could resume.
Baghdad must also quickly find the resources to rebuild the shattered city and help its traumatised civilians