The city of Mosul is the center of Nineweh Governorate and the second largest city in Iraq in terms of population after Baghdad, with a population of about three and a half million people. Mosul is approximately 465 km from Baghdad. It is famous for trading with nearby countries such as Syria and Turkey.
It is important to discuss it here, is that the modern Iraqi state would not have been formed at the beginning of the twenties of the twentieth century if Mosul did not join, which has remained the subject of intense tension between Britain and France since the first world war, and between the French mandate authorities and Turkey, which did not give up Mosul until a year 1926, after signing the treaty of Ankara.
Mosul was known as one of the centers of oil production and export, since the first half of the last century where the Ain Zala and Batma oil fields were discovered, and other untapped oil fields in the Mosul fields. Also the agriculture has been flourished, and especially after the development of the irrigation projects and the construction of the Mosul Dam, “Saddam Dam” which is located at the north of the city in 1984. Mosel considered to be the largest producer and exporter of grains, legumes and vegetables. Mosul has always been famous for its cleanliness, sophistication, organization, and its residents are distinguished by a high patriotic sense and with their different sects and practices without discrimination. They volunteer in the army and they were known for their discipline and dedication in serving the country and science. Their soldiers, officers and leaders had the prominent and patriotic role in the Iraqi-Iranian war. Mosul was and still a conservative society, so its inhabitants preserve their authentic Arab customs and traditions, morals and good qualities.
In the summer of 2014, ISIS took control of Mosul, emptied the city of its “minorities”, adopting a policy of murder, displacement, confiscation of property, and enslavement and deprivation of women. Also, this organization proceeded to destroy many places of worship and shrines of the prophets and saints, including the shrine known as Prophet Yunus. At the end of the Abbasid era,
It is worth noting that the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq, carries a strategic location, weight, and an important geopolitical dimension, especially related to the balances taking place in its near and medium surroundings at the level of Iranian and Turkish strategies, as well as international ones.
As for the entry of ISIS to the city and since its control in 2014, the organization has carried out the process of destroying and crushing the cultural and architectural heritage of Mosul, and then comes the post-ISIS phase since 2017, to deepen this destruction, at the hands of political and administrative forces and influential armed entities that have this time a governmental legitimacy.
The city witnessed attempts of militarization, driven by the euphoria of victory over (ISIS), and began to infiltrate some non-military actions and tasks illegally, to pass the interests of armed entities and parties, in cooperation with the local administrative effort strengthened with legitimacy directly from the major corruption forces in Baghdad. As these forces went into corruption and deepened the wounds of this city in a way that increased its burdens after nearly 90% of its government infrastructure was destroyed during its liberation from ISIS, in addition to the damage caused by operations such as the destruction of bridges, hospitals, universities, schools, power transmission lines, oil and gas refineries, desalination stations, roads and main streets, “as well as the destruction of large parts of the city’s residential neighborhoods during the liberation process by the organization and air strikes. The ruins of these neighborhoods are still visible so far on the right coast of the city, specifically in what is known as the old city, which was subjected to major bulldozing in 2017 and 2018 by the local civil administration in cooperation with some influential forces carrying legal weapons from outside the city, as well as distorting its ownership and heritage ownership and changing its identity and religious endowment for the benefit of the armed forces not belonging to the city
Despite its historical, national and demographic importance, and its religious diversity, Mosul has moved away from Baghdad psychologically, bureaucratically, administratively and professionally, especially in the post-2003 period, and the emergence of sectarian, tribal, religious and sectarian quotas entities. Consequently, the city of Mosul in particular has become alien to the new authoritarian pattern, and its people have been unable to comprehend this shift towards sub-identities, which Al-Mawsili consider it as a distortion of the central state’s identity.
Although most of the residents of Mosul are Sunni Arabs, it did not consider itself as a sectarian or tribal Sunni city as much as it expressed itself as a professional, civil city even when it needed this address at a time when most Iraqi politicians were referring to their governorates on the basis of their sects, interests, their doctrines and nationalities.
Until 2003, the residents of Mosul translated their civilized identity behavior through integration and direct participation in building and developing state institutions without direct concern for advanced integration with the institutions of the successive authorities that ruled the country at different stages. This is what established Mosul and its civilized inhabitants a great peculiarity in helping Iraq and building the army, educational institutions, and non-political public service institutions,
After the collapse of the Islamic State “ISIS” in Mosul in 2017, the new military entitlements to the map of the Iraqi military forces imposed many results on the land of Mosul. On top of those facts was the entry of a group of armed factions, which mostly exploited this presence in order to achieve political gains on the ground and in the future, as well as fighting some investments and closing the international roads linking Mosul with many justifications, including the protection of some religious shrines in Mosul and others related to stabilizing the pillars of stability and security in the city in order to ensure that ISIS does not return again.
However, all of this was only a prelude to initiating many economic activities inside Mosul and exploiting the lack of political cover, societal and parliamentary oversight, as well as the absence of the cover of the central government authority itself, the “Baghdad Authority”, which would guarantee a fair reconstruction process as the people of the city aspired to it, and we can mention directly, a set of network economic activities that were developed and woven in Mosul, linked to these factions, that gave them the ability to self-finance and dispense with their supposed leadership in Baghdad, so they practically left the military control system, and no longer bothered with receiving orders from anyone. The most prominent aspects of corruption of these armed forces can be summarized as follows:
1- Land corruption: It represented by controlling many large areas and strategic roads in the city and referring the reconstruction files to corrupt and influential parties, that the citizens did not see the truth of their work on the ground.
2- Oil smuggling: Some of the auxiliary military entities that participated in the operation to liberate the city managed to control more than 73 oil fields that is located in the southern and western of Mosul in cooperation with local armed groups that were formed in those areas, or what is known as the “tribal mobilization.” These groups are only a front for large smuggling operations carried out in their own name only for the benefit of more powerful figures from outside the city. The quantities of smuggled oil are estimated at more than 100 to 150 daily tanks (the tanker has a capacity of 36 thousand liters), not to mention the control of the transportation process for this, and the commissions that these auxiliary entities such as road brokers who guarantee the arrival of these trucks to the places they are going to, whether in Mosul or Baghdad or outside Iraq to Syria
3- Economy of the road: “Controlling international corridors leading to Mosul”: Mosul is surrounded by five main governorates: Dohuk in the northwest, Erbil in the northeast, Kirkuk in the east, Salah al-Din from the south, and Anbar province from the southwest, in addition to Nineweh governorate that owns a land border of more than 320 km with the Syrian side and a narrow corridor located within the disputed areas with the Kurdistan region in the village of Fish Khabur that connects Mosul directly to Turkey, but it is now subject to the authority of the Kurdistan region. The approximate returns per month as a result of the illegal (road economy) are estimated at more than 15-20 million dollars paid as direct cash commissions by the owners of companies and trucks to the controlling parties on the international roads leading to Mosul, which deepened the heavy burdens of investment and reconstruction operations, as Mosul has become a bad working environment because of these practices.
The sale of “scrap” or what is known as iron and metal remnants from destroyed homes and infrastructure: The first weeks after the liberation of Mosul from the grip of the Islamic State (ISIS) witnessed extensive activities for private companies that entered Mosul after its liberation. These companies are indirectly related to the leaders of some armed groups that fought in Mosul and then established companies under secondary names in order to work and invest. These companies, most of them for personalities from outside Mosul, worked with direct facilities from the former governor of Nineweh, Nawfal Al-Akoub, that he is accused for dozens of charges of corruption, in addition to his cooperation with some local department managers who were complicit with him to refer contracts for removing rubble, iron and scrap from the city of Mosul.
As for the final focus of our study today, it is the Iranian-Turkish view of Mosul at the present time and in the future.
Tehran viewed Mosul as a complex link in its strategy towards Iraq, indeed, it is a very difficult link in front of the expansion of Iranian influence in it after 2003. It is related to the historical heritage of the city, and the prevailing political culture in it, and it has a character linked to the inheritance of Arab nationalism, with a conservative tendency to impose a strict vision on the national issues, including opposition to foreign interference, first and foremost of course the Iranian intervention
As for Turkey, it believes that it has historical interests in what was previously known as the state of Mosul, which included the present Kurdistan region, “Erbil, Dohuk, and Sulaymaniyah” in addition to Kirkuk and Mosul, the city. However, this belief almost falls within the circle of regional Turkish dreams, which are not realistically perceived. Where Turkey remained relatively far from Mosul and the changes it witnessed, while Iran actually had a strong security and economic influence in the provinces that formed the (Ottoman) Province of Mosul.
On the other hand, Turkey has been busy with facing threats emanating from Nineweh province, from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been stationed since the expulsion of ISIS in Sinjar, west of Mosul, and since 2003 there have been major confusion in the Turkish strategy towards Mosul, which has caused Nineweh to be a threat, instead of being to be a civilizational and cultural meeting point with Iraq as a whole
In conclusion, this was a simple glimpse of the reality that one of the most important governorates in Iraq is experiencing today, amid an ongoing conflict in the country represented by a severe economic and sovereign crisis and an ambiguous and unknown future. Mosul is always waiting for new hope to be recovered from its current loss, as it is a victim of a major Iraqi failure to contain it as a last stronghold after the civilian and demographic leveling of Baghdad and Basra.
The current question remains: Will the government succeed in dealing with the Mosul file in a professional manner, with a genuine desire for reform? Has the government succeeded in dealing with the many similar files in the country?
To be continued …..
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