Muammar Faisal Kholi *
On the tenth of the current July, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a statement the liberation of the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, from the organization “Daesh” completely, after nine months of continuous fighting in the biggest military campaign taking place in Iraq since the US occupation of Iraq on the ninth of April 2003. Ebadi said in a speech shown on state television from the headquarter of the command of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism forces (CTC) in Mosul saying ” I announce here and to the whole world the end of the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism , which the terrorist Deash announced here from the city of Mosul before three years”. Abadi considered that “the right of Iraqis to be proud of this victory that they made on their own.” He pointed out that “military operations were carried out by Iraqi planning, performance and implementation no one of the rest of the nationalities shared Iraqis in the fighting on the ground.” He added that Iraq today in front of the task of stability, construction and clearing sleeper cells of the organization Daesh.
For its part, the international coalition against al Daesh welcomed , which led by the United States, to declare victory in Mosul and confirmed that the Iraqi forces completely controlled over the city, but pointed out that some areas of Mosul are still to be cleared from IEDs and any followers of al-Daesh . Alliance added that “victory in Mosul does not mean the end of the global threat of state organization, and Iraq must unite to defeat the organization and to ensure that the circumstances that led to its appearance will not return”.
One of the celebrators also is the general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qassem Soleimani, who congratulated Iraqis on their victory but attributed it to the efforts of the «popular crowd» and the fatwa of Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, keeping away deliberately the idea of the Iraqi state (represented by Mr. Abadi himself, and the institutions of the presidency and the government, parliament and the army) and the concentration on jihadist Shiite side, and the most important emphasis was on a particular words of the General that Iraq «will not allow the survival of any greedy foreign forces», which means, necessarily, that Iran is outside the definition of «greedy foreign forces», or that Iraq itself is an Iranian territory.
The Followers of the Iraqi affairs said that it is the right of Haider al-Abadi to raise his hand to greet the troops celebrating victory. He is the Prime Minister and Commander of the Armed Forces. Certainly, the fate of his position and his experience was related to the results of the battle of Mosul. Today, he can say that the army which was defeated in the reign of his predecessor, but it triumphed in his reign. And Mosul fell in the era of al-Maliki and restored during the reign of al-Abadi. The victory of Mosul doubles his legitimacy within his own party and the component to which he belongs, as well as at the national level. This is not a little for those who know the story of the thorny relationship between the current prime minister and his predecessor, whose shadow remained dominant on political life despite his exit from his office under the pressure of the disaster of Mosul.
Despite of this victory, the situation remains obscure in Mosul in particular, and Iraq in general at a post –Daesh phase , where Mosul and Iraq await many internal political, economic and social challenges, with respect to Mosul , there is the challenge of the displaced from Mosul and to return them to their destroyed homes , and calls for the division of Mosul. All the parties that participated in the battle of Mosul were agreed on the restoration of Mosul from Daesh but did not agree on how to manage it after the restoration. And that Mosul will not return as it was before 2014. And Iraqis could see the outbreak of future conflicts at any moment such as the Arabic –Kurdish conflict around Kirkuk and Nineveh Plain, Sinjar and the disputed areas between the region and the Iraqi government, if we take into account the Kurdish refusal to withdraw from the vicinity of the city of Mosul, and to insist on the inclusion of many areas in the province of Nineveh to the Kurdish region within what was called by the Kurdish leaders «blood limits» and they will start in the coming September with a referendum process to legitimize the secession of the region locally and internationally,
And the Sunni – Shiite conflict on the integrity of the political process and fairness of representation and balance of political system with its different institutions. And the Shiite –Shiite conflict between Muqtada al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki, and the conflict between the various Kurdish components, and the struggle with corruption and administrative slack and inflation of the bureaucratic system and a lack of efficiency and the issues of economic growth, and the reconstruction and so many of the internal challenges , which threatens of serious political problems, may affect regional balance and unity of Iraq, as a result of the problems resulting from the interference of neighboring countries in the future of Iraq, and overtaking on the fundamentals of the Iraqi national state and the lines of its sovereignty .
In the midst of these challenges and conflicts associated with the process of the liberation of the city of Mosul, the first question that concerns the Iraqi street remains restricted in the context how things will end after the expulsion of elements Daesh from the city of Mosul, and the legitimate concerns of the problems and potential crises coming of the post-liberation phase , after the complete control over the city and its districts , while Turkey and Iran are conflicting to draw the map of the next region where Iran is coming closer through the participation of advisers of the Revolutionary Guards with the forces of «popular crowd» to complete its expansion towards the international borders between Iraq and Syria ,and Turkey continues to strengthen its presence in northern Iraq through the support provided to the forces of «national crowd» and volunteers «Sons of Nineveh» to exert control over Mount Ba’shiqah and areas adjacent to the city of Mosul .
After Three years and after all the destruction inflicted on Iraq it is difficult to bet on the security and military solution to end the phenomenon of terrorism and rooted out, as the province of Nineveh which is one of the largest provinces of Iraq, enjoyed with the national, religious and sectarian diversity, and so far we don’t see the existence of a proper plan from the Baghdad government to deal with the new situation, which requires to go through a transitional phase ,in which Mosul and its districts to move from the chaos to the constitutional stage through the new revitalization of institutions with a key role for Sunni Arabs to fill the vacuum left by Daesh in Mosul. The sufficiency of military fist after the devastation caused by Daesh, means that some converts victory against terrorists to revenge and repression that can lead to setbacks in this place or other.
The return of simple services to Mosul in the wake of the devastation caused by the organization Daesh in Iraq estimated – after the pursuit of the policy of «scorched earth» – more than one billion dollars, while the overall estimations of the reconstruction works are more than $ 100 billion. But it is not correct to assess damage caused by «Daesh» on Iraq only with financial cost; noting that damages of «Daesh» are multi-aspects , especially the damage that hit the community, as well as human losses and large damage to the historical wealth and monumental sites. While it is necessary to count the human damage – statistics has not officially announced on the numbers of the dead and wounded among civilians and combatants so far – there is a need to prevent the recurrence of events that led to the penetration of fighters «Daesh» in Mosul and Anbar, and other areas inside Iraq. That means to prevent the recurrence of security chaos and persecution of certain groups of society, based on ethnic or sectarian identity, also means looking for radical solutions to the failure of the state. And the reconstruction of historic cities that embody Arab civilization, such as Mosul and Aleppo, the need to draw the political map of the post «Daesh», in both Iraq and Arab world in a wider way. The pictures of destruction can not be the dominant in the mind of the Arab citizen when the fight against terrorism to be the ultimate goal at this stage.
Also the government of Haider Abadi, the political Sunni class , cooperating with it and the leadership of the Kurdistan region must to cooperate in the face of thorny issues in a new spirit such as preventing to devote the demographic change in Mosul and to accelerate the absorption of the displaced people and to achieve national reconciliation at the minimum and the fight against terrorist ideas planted by Daesh, especially in the new generation, in parallel to prevent any sectarian speech, devastating of Iraqi identity.
Perhaps there are those who object and say that the bet on the Iraqi national is an ideal matter after all that happened and after the accumulation of destruction and hatred. But it must be noted that in the war against Daesh there was a general climate of cooperation in Iraq between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and that the war on the organization brought together the opposing factions. It happened since years ago during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) where the Iraqi national stood firm and the sectarian virus couldn’t affect it only since 2003.
To prevent the return of «Daesh» to this city or that and to prevent the birth of something like «Daesh» or what is the most serious, Abadi must transform the victory of Mosul to the mandate to return to the building of the Iraqi state on the basis of reconciliation and participation, a base beyond the sectarian quotas. Haider al – Abadi has to look at his watch. The difficulties are enormous and pressures are many. But the battle of the restoration of Mosul is the beginning of the return of Iraq and it deserves the adventure. The return of Iraq as a normal state after the restoration of relations between the components. If this spirit prevailed in Baghdad, it would be possible certainly to find a formula to keep the Kurdistan region part of Iraq, even though the Kurdish component to say their word in the referendum.
The return is an urgent Iraqi need. And Arab and regional need. The refraction of Iraq’s rib open the appetites of non – Arab countries in the region. The refraction of the Sunni Arab rib at home launched the process of disintegration and fragmentation and transferred Iraq to be a scene of militias inside and outside. The last word is for the Marja about the need for equality of all Iraqis of all components before the law and to encourage Abadi to go further in this attempt.
It is not enough to restore Mosul. Iraq must return to its unity and its institutions and freedom of making decision and respect its borders. Iraq is not a marginal state. Neither in geography nor in history. And the vigilance of the Iraqi spirit alone, away from the feeling of denunciation, exclusivity and fanaticism, protects the entity and prevents the return of «Daesh» and its companions to this town or that city.
And it is not an exaggeration to say that the liberation of Mosul would be an access to determine the fate of Iraq, either moving towards unity or division.
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies