Barzani vows to work for “a more tolerant Ninewa”

getarticleimageservlet.jpgMosul tribal leaders speak to Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani during their visit to Erbil on January 18. GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamed
The Kurdish Globe

Ninewa tribal leaders denounce establishment of Isnad militia

Kurdistan President and Mosul tribal leaders agree to establish a closer partnership in the name of security.

The president of Kurdistan Region says Kurds have no intention of annexing Ninewa province to their region. Speaking to a large group of Arab tribal leaders from Ninewa province, President Massoud Barzani said his region is interested in a tolerant Ninewa with far better security.

Less than two weeks before the provincial elections in the country, President Barzani met with tribal leaders of the volatile province of Ninewa, 80 km south of the Kurdish capital city of Erbil.

“Our sole intention,” President Barzani said, “is to help you gain a more tolerant and secure province. Ninewa is the home place of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, and other ethnic and religious groups, and it should remain this way,” President Barzani said, adding that Kurdistan Region will not allow anyone to destroy what he called “the spirit of brotherhood” in the city of Mosul.

In October 2008, large groups of Christians migrated out of Mosul after being harassed by local militia groups. More than 50 Christians were killed and many more were injured in the midst of a terror campaign launched to expel Christian families from the city. At least 10,000 Christian families migrated into Kurdistan Region and took shelter in cities across the Region. Kurdish Parliament and the government offered economic assistance, and most of the Christian refugees were given temporary places. Later, an Iraqi political leader, Osama al-Nujaifi, accused Kurdish parties of masterminding the terror actions against Christian civilians. Kurdish leaders strongly condemned the allegations and accused al-Nujaifi of attempting to destroy the good relations between Kurds and Christians in and outside of the Region.

Last week, documented evidence shown by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces proved that groups close to al-Nujaifi were behind the terror actions. Some evidence showed that al-Nujaifi’s close relatives had participating in arranging terror campaigns against the Christian families. Kurdish lawmakers in Baghdad demanded that al-Nujaifi, who is an Iraqi Parliament member, should be forced to resign.

Meanwhile, in Erbil, both the Kurdish leader and the Mosul tribal leaders emphasized the need to have a closer partnership to establish a safer Ninewa. Tribal leaders also denounced the establishment of the so-called Isnad militia groups backed by the federal government in Baghdad.

“I think we should pay more attention to Iraqi police forces,” Sheikh Abdulkarim, head of the Council of Northern Tribes of Ninewa, told “The Kurdish Globe,” adding: “Isnad is not a necessity and I think there is a political reason behind its establishment.”

The controversy surrounding the establishment of Isnad militias was a major cause of disputes between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Kurdish President Barzani. Al-Maliki argued Isnad militias could help stabilize the security situation in the region, whereas local police, he said, could do little to prevent the unrest in Mosul and the province. The Kurdish leader, on the other hand, denounced Isnad, saying it was an attempt to gain a better political stronghold in Ninewa.

Provincial elections are planned to take place at the end of January in 14 provinces, excluding Kirkuk and Kurdistan Region, where authorities have asked to postpone elections. Mosul is the home city of roughly half a million Kurds.