What don’t we understand about Mosul?

BY: Kemal Öztürk*

The most problematic land of all time… The geography between Tigris and the Euphrates, the Mesopotamia region, reeks of blood once again. The fire of war is about to take flame in Mosul, the city of fighting, disagreement and riot.
We come to Mosul, to the village of Hazir. We watch the barren, hot, creamy colored hills and plains from a distance. The Peshmerga, who is expected to enter a pitiless war with them tomorrow, says, “Daesh is right behind this hill.” He doesn’t really understand the war he will be fighting in, what he is expected to face, or how his life will be after that moment onward. A day after we left the area, the Peshmerga came in from Hazir and the clashes started.
It isn’t only the soldiers who are in a state of uncertainty. Senior government officials, clan leaders, journalists and businessmen… in other words, everyone in this bloody region is suffering in the uncertainty of the geography.
Erbil has become poor, its hopes shattered
I am in Erbil after three years. The first thing I see is how the worsening economy is reflected on the streets. The bankrupted shops, the closed down shopping centers, the low prices of houses and stores, and the saddened faces of the refugees on the streets…
More importantly, I saw how people lost their hopes for future expectations. They don’t smile. They have lost their joy for life. Erbil is the richest city of the area, yet the people are in such a sad state. I don’t even want to imagine how the people in Mosul, Tal Afar, Ramadi and Baghdad would be.
Mosul, the last Sunni city
“Mosul is the last Sunni city for us. If we lose Mosul, it is impossible for Sunnis to live in Iraq any longer. Those who turned Basra, Bagdad and Samarra into Shiite cities will do the same to Mosul as well and turn it into a single-sect area. They will use the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia, who have lost their logics and hearts and are full of revenge. This means 1 million people will have to migrate from Mosul and thus paralyze the area they go to.”
The statement above belongs to Atheel al-Nujaifi. The former Mosul governor, the “Guard of Nineveh,” the currently most debated name during the Mosul operation. He explained all of this two hours before the 2,000 militias Turkey trained entered Mosul. He has despair on his face, his eyes are filled with uncertainty.
The fear of al-Hash al-Shaabi has haunted the mountains
Strangely, people are talking about the Hash al-Shaabi instead of Daesh during the Mosul operation. People are watching the videos of militia pulling hearts and livers out of bodies and eating them. The images are so disgusting that your heart feels like it will stop while watching. These furious, uncontrollable nuts, the Hash al-Shaabi, are the most critical issue of the Mosul war.
If this group enters the war, it will commit a massacre. This is not a prediction. Last Friday, during a sermon, Ahl al-Haq organization leader Qais al-Khazali, known for his horridness, said, “We will enter Mosul and take Hussein’s revenge.”
Everyone was petrified after this sermon. Because the militia that horrifically kills and eats the organs of people are part of this man’s organization.
The biggest fear of the Kurdish administration
People in Iraq have lost their rational attitudes. Geopolitics is understood through sects. The Sunnis do not trust each other and rather hate each other because of the Hashd al-Shaabi, and the Shiites because of Daesh. Iran is trying to turn Iraq into a Shiite state, bring Kurds down to their knees, fuel a sectarian war and empty out the oil wells.
On the highest hill of Erbil I chat to a senior Kurdish administration official while sipping my Turkish coffee: “The number of Kurdish soldiers in the Iraqi army has dropped from 24 percent to 4 percent. Shiites make up 85 percent of the army. This is not very frightening because they are subjected to Baghdad. However, the Hashd al-Shaabi army is made up of 100,000 to 150,000 Shiite militants who are full with revenge. They aren’t subjected to Bagdad, and they only receive orders from Tehran, Hamaney. This is the most dangerous point.”
Mosul, the door to a big war
There are so many people who say that a Shiite-Sunni clash is about to begin in Iraq, and that this will expand into the whole region and thus a war will start. Everyone agrees that the first step to this is Mosul.
The 1.5 million people of Mosul do not know what to do. They cannot leave the city as Daesh is threatening to kill them. They are being bombarded with U.S. bombs. The have the vengeful Hashd al-Shaabi waiting at the door. The only thing they can do is cry for their future.
It is enough to come to the edge of Mosul to understand it. You will directly understand that a human tragedy is about to start in Mosul. A migration wave will start from Mosul, entering Erbil and then Turkey’s borders. No one could doubt this. Unfortunately this is not Turkey’s only problem. Turkey’s biggest concern is that a sectarian war which will expand into the whole of the Middle East is about to start.


*Kemal Öztürk is a Turkish columnist. He writes for Yeni Şafak Turkish newspaper

     (Published in Yeni Şafak daily newspaper on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016)