Sunnis, Shi’ites, Christians, Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Kurds — Welcome To Mosul

  • Written by:

Dr. Josef Olmert Middle East scholar, former peace negotiator, journalist
ISIS will be defeated in Mosul amid scenes of unprecedented atrocities, those committed during the fighting and those committed by the Jihadists before and just being exposed. There will be victory cries from the Iraqi government, the Obama administration, the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Erdogan government in Ankara, the Mullahs in Tehran, and it will all seem so optimistic and promising. A piece of advice though to those who will care to watch the news after a few days/weeks/months; Mosul will NOT be a reborn paradise, Mosul will be closer to hell than anything else, and another piece of clarification-ISIS are the worst, they need to be defeated and destroyed. That goes without saying, but what is to be remembered from now on is the fact that there is a day after, and this is where the problems will be.

War is a catalyst for change, as we know, and war also leads to unintended consequences, particularly when there are so many parties involved, and more importantly, when some of these parties have conflicting strategic visions about the future. The experience of foreign interventions in Libya and Syria, may serve notice about what to expect now. For Americans, the Iraqi Freedom operation, the invasion of 2003, IS the better reminder of what can happen and what can still and very likely to happen will be another very painful reminder. Context is in dire need here. Mosul and its mountainous surroundings has traditionally been the home of many minorities (A classic book describing that, is H C LUKE, Mosul and its minorities, published in 1926), but never had Shi’ites there. Here is problem number one — the Iraqi army today is a Shi’ite army, loyal to a Shi’ite government in Baghdad, which in turn is the mouthpiece of Iran. Not a promising prospect, especially as the recent past in Iraq proved, that the chances of sectarian retributions there are so high, in fact, it is an inevitability. Iran having a foothold in Mosul is not welcome news to Turkey under Tayyip Erdoghan, the watchdog of Sunni Muslim interests, but also the natural protector of the rights of the Turkmens of the region [hundreds of thousands of them]. Remember also the historic claim of the newly-founded Turkish Republic to Mosul, which was rejected in 1926 by the League of Nations. There is oil, a lot of it around there, there are Turkish speakers, there are Sunnis, and there is an ambitious Turkish President, who already made statements, indicating the profound Turkish interest. A sure recipe to troubles, and add up to these, the Turkish-Kurdish factor. There is NO common interest of any kind between the goals of the Kurds and Turkey. It is clear in the case of Syria, where the Turks are fighting the Kurds, not ISIS, and it will be clear in Iraq. There is also a major contradiction between Kurdish goals and that of Iran, where 6 million Kurds are systematically oppressed by the Shi’ite Mullahs.[The Kurds are Sunnis]. Temporary alliances on the basis of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, can still emerge in the post-ISIS era in Northern Iraq, but They will not hold water for too long.

Then there are other interested parties, Yazidis, Shabaks, Mandeans and a large Christian community, mostly Assyrians, but also Chaldeans and Syrian Orthodox and others. Christians and Yazidis in particular, suffered atrocities and were subjected to ethnic cleansing . Who will take care of restoring their rights and protect their very existence after the removal of ISIS? The US may be considered the likely candidate, but the Obama Administration has a very bad record of defending minorities, and the repeated talk about arming the Kurds, while doing nothing in that regard, is just one example, and the seeming cooperation between the American’’advisers’’ and the Iraqi army does not give us any guarantee, that American influence over the Shi’ite government in Iraq is any match to that of Iran.

So, here is where we started. ISIS will be out, CHAOS will be in, and the most crucial question of all, Iraq Quo Vadis? will remain unanswered, in fact ,the post-Mosul situation will make it even harder to resolve that problem.

Sunnis, Shi’ites, Christians, Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Kurds — Welcome To Mosul
10/24/2016 04:40 pm ET