The battle for Mosul is as much a political endeavor as its post-conflict status will be. The entire venture pivots on the trust between the allied factions: the Kurds, the Christians, the Yazidis, and the Iraqi army which has its own Shia-Sunni divisions—not to mention the Turks hovering on the horizon threatening to join the hunt. For the ground war to work the factions need to believe that they share a common goal for the long-term future of Mosul. That's a tall order because the major players have divergent, even opposing, agendas.
I was in Iraq five times for various stretches, up to and beyond the Surge, reporting mostly for the Wall Street Journal's editorial pages. At first, I spent a good deal of time with the Turkmen in the north and on the Syria border and then often with Ahmad Chalabi around Baghdad.