ISIL’s last stronghold, and the last urbanization fortresses in Iraq
Mosul – Between existence and extinction
Mosul is ISIL’s last stronghold, that’s true, but, it is everything for the Mosulis. As it is becoming a battle field, it is the home for more that 1.5 million people, and twice as this number, are displaced.
Tons of news is spreading about the battle for Mosul, whether it is from official sources, or being leaked due to media and/or intelligence stupidity, or deliberately leaked information, in addition to false news, and news spread by those who are ignorant of Mosul’s current situation and conditions, and diversity, is one of the problems we, as Mosulis, are facing is the rising voices of those who label themselves as “Strategic Experts” of Mosul, even though they fail to recognize the city’s structure and system that structures the city’s districts and regulates their relationships among each other, and failed to recognize the demographics of Mosul’s societies. I say “societies” not “a society”, and only the Mosulis understand what it means. Those so called “Strategic Experts” layout their analyses upon bases so untrue to Mosul and its historical question. We see them as part of the problem, not the solution because of the false opinions they provide to the Political decision-makers.
From the spreaded news, we come to conclude that the liberation forces, or Political decision-makers, are counting on a possible withdrawal of ISIL from Mosul, and make this option seem more likely for it to happen, and maybe it is the most likeable possible choice for it to happen, according to their perceptions. If ISIL actually withdraw from Mosul, it will be great to spare the city and its inhabitants a lot of destruction and devastation.
But we must ask, what if ISIL does not withdraw from Mosul? There is no chance for it to withdraw in fact. Many of ISIL’s members in Mosul are Iraqis. Even if we assume their withdrawal to Syria, that means engaging them in new battles with other powers that are already waiting to annihilate them once they cross to Syria; the Iraqi will be a definite target in Syria. Therefore, the Iraqi ISIL members will avoid retreating to Syria.
There is no safe heaven for them anywhere in Iraq either; it is just impossible for them to blend. Today, they tried to breach into Kirkuk. Although the news from there are still unclear, but the information indicates that the Peshmerga and the MPUs controlled the situation in Kirkuk. Will they flee to Turkey? That is a long shot. Will the foreign fighters return to Europe? That is a long shot too, because the European countries started to point out the possibility of them returning to Europe, and Europe’s clear goal is to annihilate them while they are in Iraq and Syria.
What other options are out there? Is it to kill them all? It is evident that there are no plans to assimilate those who involved with ISIL, and there is no discussion about alternative solutions to end ISIL but war. However, killing them all will not end the conflict. It will annihilate ISIL militarily, but other problems will rise. What solutions does the liberation forces have? They do not seem to have any solutions in this regard.
For all the reasons above, that is why we believe that ISIL might choose to fight, because it is the only option left for the thousands of implicated members in addition to the defectors who are willing to leave ISIL, but there are left with no other choice.
Why we believe ISIL will fight in Mosul?
1- It is clear that the decision to launch the battle to liberate Mosul came to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the end of President Obama’s term at the White House. The launch of Mosul operations will provide him with great political support to hand over the administration with a great achievement. Therefore, ISIL will do everything at its disposal to prolong the battle and to miss this opportunity for Obama.
2- The Turkish problem is still unsolved, and the Turkish influence on the course of this battle is very evident.
3- ISIL will not leave Mosul to fight at its outskirts. Instead, it will prolong the conflict at the outskirts to preoccupy the liberating forces. But at the end, ISIL will have to withdraw those forces inside Mosul, whether it likes it or not, and will draw the battle inside the city because ISIL wants it to be, so does other parties as well.
What if the battle takes place inside Mosul?
First, it is important to demonstrate Mosul’s nature and it’s demographics and geographical structure:
Many of who discuss Mosul question believe that Nainawa is the same as Mosul. Therefore, they project their opinions on all districts of Nainawa and generalize their views upon them. By doing just that, they commit a very big mistake when they describe the Mosuli community as a tribal community, ruled by tribe chiefs (sheikhs), and submits to tribal customs. This is one of the biggest misconceptions those who claim knowing Mosul are doing every time they are consulted about Mosul.
Some speak about Mosul as if it is a pure Sunni city, and with that, they grant a religious character to it, which is contrary to the historical and social facts. Because this city is characterized over long historical eras by patterns of harmonious coexistence of ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity, religion was never the predominant character of this diversity, but urbanization. Mosul heritage is rich of examples that attest to the Christian – Islamic connection in Mosul. Therefore, this city has never been purely Sunni, on the contrary, it is its surrounding outskirts, townships, and villages that are taking that role and not Mosul itself. Therefore, the attempts to present Mosul as a purely Sunni city is targeting its social fabric, which Saddam’s regime had always tried to do, and it is what ISIL is doing now, as well as the new liberators are trying to implement after liberation, because ripping Mosul’s social fabric means destroying the city historically, socially, and morally.
That is the issue for us today, the question of “Existence or No-Existence”, “Survival or Extinction”. Mosul can only exist with its Christians and Muslims living next to each other, The Sunnis and Shiite as well, the Arab, the Kurds, and the Yazidis, the civil societies of them, not the townships and villagers. What those “Strategic Experts” do not know is that the Christians of Mosul look at the Christian villagers as they are less urbanized and less civilized, so do the Yazidis and the Shiite of Mosul, because the unifying identity of them all is the Mosuli identity, not any other identity.
We are very aware of the attempts about Mosul and how it is been presented to the world as a “pure tribal Sunni city”, and how this is shaping the city as a city of internal endless conflicts, where the only resolution to its conflicts is by separating its societies apart from each other
Therefore, we can conclude the following points:
1- If the battle was to occur inside Mosul – and we suggest it will happen – it will be the end of the civil inhabitants of Mosul and with it, it will end their chances to manage their city for good.
2- The battle will cause immense devastation and destruction to the city that will take a very long time to rebuild it all over again.
3- All the post-liberation plans setup for Mosul are either to make it predominantly Shiite, or to hand it over to the inhabitants of the surrounding townships and villages to turn it into a “tribal” city and ruled by the tribes, which will annihilate the last urbanization fortresses in Iraq.
4- We are unsure of the nature of the liberating forces that will enter Mosul; what are their goals? What agenda are they about to carry out? It is evident that the MPUs will enter Talafar, which will enable them to advance toward Mosul from the west. Also, there is the Kurdish forces that are pursuing to delve into Mosul.
5- It is becoming very clear that the military operations taking place in Nainawa plains are aimed to establish an international safe-zone for the Christians in Nainawa, which it might become mutually administered with Kurdistan regional government, and that means to drain Mosul of its Christian residents entirely, and delaying the liberation of Mosul. After Nainawa Plains liberation is over, the liberating forces will not be able to fight swift battles, instead, they will seek to fight to protect the plains, and this means that the battle to liberate Mosul will take place inside the city, which means endangering the lives of more than a million and a half citizens within the city.
The end of Part One
The picture is courtesy of Carlos Barria / Reuters
Barack Obama attends a meeting with the National Security Council at the State Department in Washington February 25, 2016