After liberation tensions could flare up in Mosul
Sectarian tensions run the risk of flaring up after Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is retaken from Daesh in the coming days, as many analysts expect.

The danger of a flareup is being blamed by some political figures on the lack of a unified vision among the various Iraqi parties over how to manage security and political affairs in the city after liberation.

The first sign of such disputes can be seen in Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s declaration that the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia will take part in operations to retake Mosul, a prospect firmly rejected by Sunni political parties.

The majority of Mosul's population is Sunni Arab, made up of five major tribes – Shimmar, al-Jubur, al-Dulaim, Tay, and al-Baqqara – along with Christians and other minorities from various ethnicities: Kurds, Turkmen, and others.

Dildar Zebari, an official serving on the provincial council of Nineveh, where Mosul is located, warns of sectarian conflicts that may follow liberation "since there is no vision for how to administer public affairs in the city, as the federal government has no clear plan for such matters.”

"What makes the situation more complicated is the lack of any kind of consensus among the main parties which aim to retake the city: the Iraqi army, the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, peshmerga forces, and the international coalition," he added.

Sunni parties insist that the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia should not be involved in these operations, in order to avoid any repetition of the sectarian clashes that the city of Tikrit, northwest of Baghdad, saw last year.

Serious objections

Mazhar Khader, a member of the Iraqi National Forces Union, the Sunni bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said these sectarian conflicts could be avoided by "preventing the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia from taking part in the operations to retake Mosul.”

Khader said, "The Iraqi forces, peshmerga forces, pro-government Hashd al-Ashaeri tribal militia, and international alliance are capable of expelling the terrorist group Daesh from Mosul,” warning, "There are serious objections to any participation of the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, as such participation may stoke sectarian tensions in the city.”

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government, told Prime Minister al-Abadi that the Kurds don’t have any designs on northern Iraq’s Nineveh province.

Established in mid-2014, the Hashd al-Shaabi consists of Shia volunteers who have fought alongside Iraqi security forces in an effort to recapture Iraqi cities from Daesh.

The Shia militia, however, has been accused of committing abuses against the Sunni populations of cities recently retaken from Daesh.

Backed by U.S.-led warplanes, Iraqi troops launched an operation Tuesday to liberate Qayyara, a strategically important area for Iraqi forces planning to capture Mosul from Daesh.

In 2014 Daesh seized control of vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq. However, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led warplanes, have since managed to retake most of that territory.

Last Modified: 2016-08-27 09:26:28
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