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Kurdish legal consultant, writer and journalist Chiman Salih discusses what should happen after Mosul is liberated from the hands of ISIS terrorists.
According to military leaders, the plan to regain control over Mosul, the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq, is all set but the aftermath of this liberation will be a crucial point in terms of the region’s stability. In order to ensure future stability, it is important that Mosul will finally get the justice it deserves. Now, the question is: what is the US planning?
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been a disputed area since the early 20th century. Wilayat Mosul (the Mosul administrative division) was a part of Ottoman Empire until World War I. After the British occupation, Britain succeeded in making the Mosul case an international issue due to a border dispute between Iraq and Turkey. Eventually, Britain benefited from its leverage in the then League of Nations and annexed Mosul to Iraq, which was ruled by the Sunni Arab dominant fraction, in exchange for Iraqi natural resources.
According to historical sources, Wilayat Mosul was demographically composed of a Kurdish speaking population, a large Assyrian Syriac speaking population and an Arabic speaking population. In contrast to its neighbors, Mosul was much more directly connected to the Ottoman Empire. With regards to the religious communities, it was predominately Sunni with notable communities of Turkmen, Kurds, Assyrian Christians and Jews. It had a total population of about 800,000 people in the early 20th century.
At that time, the Kurds were fighting for independence but Britain didn’t support them despite the fact that they were very powerful fighters (similar to today’s situation as the Kurds in Iraq and Syria are the firm military force against ISIS).
According to the will of King Faysal, the appointed king over the newly created Iraqi state, Britain supported handing the power over to the Sunnis and in the end of the 20th century, Saddam Hussein’s regime implemented an overwhelmingly Arabization policy in the disputed areas of Iraq.
Even after a century, the story of the Britain’s betrayal is a heartbreaking story for Kurds and this might also be true for the other ethnicities and religious components of the region after they tasted decades of bitterness and marginalization. Iraq as an artificial state was never able to provide security to its people.
The US, as the leader of the coalition force against ISIS, should skim over the passed century and support a proper plan for the aftermath of the Mosul liberation in order to not repeat what was done by Britain.
Undoubtedly, if the US should choose to not behave differently towards the multiethnic nature of the Mosul population and to not try to restore justice, the catastrophe will definitely repeat itself in even more severity.
There is a lesson to be learned from the British decision, which took a fragile foundation and made an artificial state that never had stability despite the different ruling systems that were implemented in it. The foundation of any solution for the Mosul issue should be justice, nothing else.
In a recent op-ed that was published by MERI, the Middle East Research Institute based in Erbil, researcher Dylan O’Driscoll proposed a logical foundation for a possible solution. O’Driscoll proposed a plan based on a sub-district by sub-district basis, which would support all the populations living in the area, not just the preferences of one at the expense of the rest or the interests of a third-party. The US needs to be the force primarily responsible for this.
Currently, various forces are waiting on the outskirts of Mosul. They are waiting for zero hour in order to start the purging operation. They are eager to expel ISIS out of the city. This will undoubtedly be done but what is doubtful is whether stability and security will be provided to the population of Mosul in the aftermath of the liberation.