Dr. O'Driscoll is a research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The occupation of the Iraqi city of Mosul by the Islamic State (IS)1 has become an issue of global importance. The liberation of the city is seen as a symbol for defeating IS in Iraq, and there is international pressure to achieve this. Both the Obama administration and the prime minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, have been pushing for the liberation of Mosul for political reasons.2 There is the perception that Obama would like to end his term on a high, and victory over IS in Iraq would provide just that, at least temporarily. Additionally, Abadi promised to defeat IS before the end of 2016 and, as his political position is weak at the moment, this is a promise he needs to deliver on.3 The flurry of activity in September 2016 — with visits from the British and German defense ministers to Erbil,4 a high-level delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) visiting Baghdad5 as well as a tripartite agreement among Baghdad, Erbil and Washington for the Mosul liberation — made it clear that the Mosul battle was imminent.6 Indeed, on October 17, 2016, Abadi announced the beginning of the operation to retake the city of Mosul from IS.7 However, no political agreement has been reached for the future governance and security of Mosul and the wider province of Nineveh.8 Liberating Mosul without adequate planning with regard to post-IS dynamics will only result in a short-lived victory that the people of Iraq will pay for in the years to come. A political agreement should have been reached prior to the launch of the offensive, and it is now imperative that political action be taken before the end of the offensive.
This article argues that the political and security marginalization of the Sunnis is partly responsible for the rise of IS; thus, any liberation would be counterproductive if not paired with a political and security agreement for Mosul and the wider province of Nineveh. It thus lays out the issues that need to be, and should already have been, addressed. As the battle for Mosul is likely to take as long as three months,9 and possibly even more, it is vital that negotiations begin and agreements be reached for the political and security elements of the liberation before it is completed. I will first contextualize the political failures in Iraq by examining the marginalization of Sunnis. Following this, I will analyze why it is essential for a political and security deal to be reached prior to the completion of the liberation of the city of Mosul and what role the coalition forces, particularly the United States, can play in facilitating this arrangement. The fieldwork for this research, undertaken between June and August 2016, involved semi-structured interviews with the key political actors in Nineveh.
The deep structural and political failures in Iraq are indicated by the way in which the security forces gave up Mosul so easily. If they are not dealt with, any military defeat of IS will be pointless; IS will merely be replaced by another radical entity looking to represent the marginalized Sunni population. Lessons must be learned from the actions of the post-Saddam era. Failure to create a political, civil and security system that represents the entire population of Iraq led to radicalization and disengagement from the Iraqi state. If these same mistakes are not to be repeated post-IS, substantial planning is needed.10
The governance system in Iraq has failed to adequately represent its various communities, and since 2003 the government has been unable to deliver economic and security stability. Under these circumstances, IS grew and thrived in Iraq, making it clear that a political solution needs to come before any military decision. Because IS is the grotesque manifestation of the marginalization of the Sunni population, defeating it militarily will not solve the issue that brought it to life in the first place. It needs to be defeated politically. Once a political settlement is achieved, there will no longer be a void to fill; consequently, IS will lose its mandate to exist.11 In order to understand the need for a political deal, it is important to first examine the marginalization process in Iraq.
IS AND MALIKI'S RULE
As a result of the process of de-Baathification and the political sidelining of Sunnis, al-Qaeda was able to gain a significant foothold in Iraq. The response to al-Qaeda's rise was the creation of the Sunni Sahwa forces, which finally produced an active engagement with the Sunni community.12 This led to an increased participation in the political process, which in turn led to the secular al-Iraqiya bloc's winning the most seats in the 2010 national elections.13 This could have been a turning point with regard to Sunni political participation in post-2003 Iraq. However, due to Iraq's political system and fraught post-election negotiations for power, Nouri al-Maliki and his State of Law bloc managed to maintain power.14
The period of Maliki's second term is seen as largely responsible for the complete marginalization of the Sunnis that led to the rapid rise of IS.15 Maliki's growing authoritarianism and amalgamation of power were decisive. First, alongside his role as prime minister, he became minister of defense, minister of interior, minister of state for national security and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Second, Maliki eliminated a number of his political opponents through accusations and arrests.16 Third, he disbanded the Sunni Sahwa forces without properly incorporating them into the security services, thus ridding himself of (Sunni) military opposition.17 Fourth, he replaced high-ranking military officials with his allies and began giving them direct orders. Additionally, Maliki created provincial command centers with generals loyal to him and placed both the army and police under these generals' control. This led to his effectively running the Iraqi Security Forces both on the ground and in the parliament.18 Finally, Maliki sent in the army to deal with those Sunnis protesting against his governing methods. The resulting violence caused many deaths.19
The marginalization of Sunnis in the central government transferred to the local level. According to one Sunni Nineveh Provincial Council (NPC) member, the policies adopted by the federal government of Iraq "led to the complete breakdown of the communications of the central government and the local government, which in turn led to the complete destruction of the communication between the local government and the security apparatus."20 The direct link between the rise of IS and the marginalization of Sunnis is evident.
Additionally, the marginalization of the Sunnis went beyond politics, transferring to the Maliki-controlled military's behavior with regard to their treatment of the local population. This is highlighted in the following two quotes from NPC members:
The security apparatus in the city became corrupt and they were extorting the people of the city, including doctors, businesses, etc. Even at the time when there were violations people did not feel comfortable to report these to the security apparatus.21
We have the case of the Iraqi troops going to shops, for example goldsmiths, taking things by force and not paying and badly treating the people of the town. They were coming to the towns and taking whatever they wanted, filling their cars. If you voiced your concerns, the next day you would be on the terror list and be taken away. The people were fed up with this treatment and it created a very fertile ground for extremism in the city. Both sides, the local government and the Iraqi government, contributed to the escalation of the crisis and planting the seeds of extremism in the town.22
Consequently, the marginalization of the Sunni population and the acts of the military against it created the dynamics that enabled IS to gain a foothold in Mosul, a point highlighted by a former governor of Nineveh Province:
When those people demonstrated and asked for their rights, the Iraqi government used force against them. Some of them believe that there is no way to get their rights through political means and they joined Daesh and used weapons against the government.23
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Maliki is no longer prime minister, the marginalization of Iraqi Sunnis continues. Two recent events illustrate this point. First, Abadi stated that the Hashd al-Shaabi24 will participate in the liberation of Mosul, which has since become a reality.25 Second, the Sunni minister of defense, Khaled al-Obaidi, was recently impeached under accusations of corruption.26 The participation of the Hashd al-Shaabi is important. The NPC voted unanimously that the group should have no role in the liberation of Mosul; because they represent the people of Nineveh, the vote should be respected. For Obaidi, who is from Mosul, losing his post is significant as this harks back to a time under Maliki when political opponents were forced out through politically driven accusations. If corruption is to be tackled in the Iraqi parliament, it has to happen across the board and not be used as a political tool to get rid of opponents. For Sunnis, particularly those from Mosul, Obaidi represented their community in the higher rankings of the government. This demonstrated, on the surface at least, that the government had changed since Maliki's time, when the armed forces came completely under his control. This fact was particularly evident in the interviews with Sunni political actors in Nineveh. When asked which forces should participate in the liberation of Mosul, the participants routinely said the Iraqi army. When asked the follow-up question of why, considering that the Iraqi army abandoned the city to a force of only 800 IS fighters, the importance of Obaidi became apparent. According to many of the interviewees, the army changed under Obaidi and ceased to be the force of corruption and violence they had witnessed in Mosul during Maliki's rule.27
Both of the developments mentioned above demonstrate that Iraq has not changed and that the marginalization of Sunnis continues. The conditions that led to the rise of IS still exist; thus, the defeat of IS will do little to solve the underlying issues. For a Sunni living under IS in Mosul, what is going to instill trust in this government? If Sunni political representatives are not being listened to and are being sidelined in Baghdad, are Sunnis not going to fear what will replace IS? Therefore, it is important to reach a deal for the future of Nineveh.
THE NEED FOR A DEAL
The marginalization of Sunnis created a power vacuum, one that was easily filled by IS through force and a separation from the central state system. The removal of IS will, yet again, create a power vacuum in Mosul; therefore, it is essential that this does not result in a fight for power among rival local groups or, once again, sidelining by the central government of the local population. For example, following the liberation of Fallujah in June 2016, there were large political disagreements within the provincial council over leadership roles and council positions, as well as over the reconstruction process and divisions of funds and contracts.28 These elements should have been agreed upon prior to any liberation; failure to do so has only slowed down the process of reconstruction, ultimately causing the most suffering to those who have been displaced. Lessons must be learned from Fallujah, to avoid repeating mistakes. Political deals covering governance, security and post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation must be made.
As highlighted above, the lack of political will to address Sunni grievances has played a major role in the creation of radical entities in Iraq. Therefore, it is vital that political agreements on who will govern, how they will do it and on what structure governance will be built are made prior to the completion of the liberation of Mosul. IS represents an ideology as much as it represents Sunni marginalization, the fact that Sunnis have been denied the opportunity to address their concerns through political means. None of these elements can be dealt with effectively through combat. Without establishing political agreements for political structures to ensure not only that Sunnis are part of the political process, but also that minorities are protected and have adequate participation in the governance of Nineveh, IS will not be defeated. Without having political agreements prior to Mosul's liberation, its people will fear what will replace IS. Without having political agreements in place, inter- and intra-community violence will inevitably occur, as various groups vie for positions of power. This will only be exacerbated by the growing number of militias operating within Nineveh. Thus, any political arrangement also needs to include an agreement on the future security forces in Nineveh. Without a political agreement in place, zero-sum games will be the main political behavior of community leaders.
There are deep roots to the political issues that need to be addressed, calling for drastic changes to governance. At the central level, the political system has long been failing, and reforms promised by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi have not come to fruition. There are numerous issues at the central level, but, due to the multiple parties involved and the current state of Iraqi politics, solving them will have to be a long-term project. It is essential to make reforms at the central level, however, as failure to do so will reproduce the conditions that led to the rapid rise of IS and may lead to its return or the establishment of another radical entity that will address Sunni grievances through violent means. Although this will have to be undertaken for the whole of Iraq, its basic elements can be dealt with through decentralization and by addressing governance issues at the local or provincial levels.
Thus, it is important to develop a governance agreement for Nineveh in order for all the communities to feel represented and to prevent the Baghdad-based centralization that led to many of the dynamics that allowed IS to grow. It is equally necessary to have all the local groups on board for the new governance program; it is pointless to have decentralization if it only leads to domination at a local level. The importance of having an agreement among local groups stems from the fact that there are a number of factions within Nineveh and in Mosul itself. Although they agree on the need for decentralization, they have different ideas about what that entails. Within the NPC there is current Governor Nofal Hammadi and his alliance, but there are also various opposition groups within the NPC, as well as various minority groups. Then there is former Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi and his followers, who are backed by Turkey and who — as numerous interviewees from the NPC claim — are planning to use their military force, Hashd al-Watani, to take power, or at least exert influence after the liberation. It is, however, important to note that Nujaifi denies there is any plan to occupy a formal position after the liberation.29
There are also numerous other groups, both within and outside the NPC, with strong links to the KRG — particularly the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — that would have different ideas about the governance structures and future of Nineveh. There is also Baghdad and those linked to it, as well as Iran and the Arab Gulf states. Then, of course, there are the coalition forces, which exert great influence on the entire process.
As is evident, there are numerous groups with different aims and goals for the governance and future of Nineveh. Without a political agreement prior to Mosul's liberation, there is the potential for conflict as these factions try to gain power or exert influence; the proliferation of armed militias only heightens the tensions. Therefore, an agreement for the governance of Nineveh is intrinsic to the future stability of the province. However, as the disputed territories are a flash point that could lead to future conflict, they also have to be addressed in the political agreement.
There needs to be an agreement for a new mechanism to deal with the disputed territories,30 as Article 140 has failed to solve the issue.31 Continuous delays and unfulfilled promises have done little to develop trust in the process; Kurds are clearly dissatisfied with the entire affair. However, the future of the disputed territories must be decided through political means, using the processes developed within Article 140 as a guideline. The issue with Article 140 is not the content but the means to implement it. As long as Baghdad maintains complete control over Article 140 as the method to deal with the disputed territories, nothing will happen. Removing Article 140 and starting fresh negotiations among the territories actually affected by the process will not only bring in the communities whose future is being decided, but also reignite the process of dealing with the disputed territories.32
There is, it should be noted, the potential for the KRG to take the disputed territories by force. The Peshmerga are liberating these areas; without a political consensus, they could refuse to withdraw, thus occupying the territory. Statements such as the following by KRI Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani have been widely used by non-Kurds to support these fears: "We will decide the extent of our borders by what has been liberated with the blood of our Peshmerga."33 Moreover, Abdulrazaq and Stansfield suggest that the KDP wants to annex these territories for internal Kurdish reasons. One is to counteract the effect of Kirkuk's joining the KRI, as the city's majority adhere to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).34 Additionally, the current political crisis in the KRI heightens the need for the KDP to gain more territory under its sphere of influence in order to boost its hand in future negotiations with the PUK and Gorran. These factors increase the possibility of the KRG's taking the disputed territories through force.
However, taking over these territories rather than negotiating their future politically will only lead to further violence in the region. There has to be a political solution to the issue, and this can only be negotiated once there is stability in Nineveh and elections have enabled the population to choose new representation. This does not mean the Peshmerga have to withdraw from the disputed territories they took control of in their advances against IS, but that the governance of these areas should fall under the — decentralized — NPC until such time as negotiations begin. However, international supervisors will be necessary to ensure that there is no coercion of the local population to join the KRI. Negotiations should then happen between the NPC and the KRG with the participation of Baghdad and the facilitation of the United States. It is crucial that an agreement for these negotiations to replace Article 140 be reached before the liberation of Mosul is complete. Both the political agreement and agreement on the disputed territories will have to be underpinned by controlling the number of forces operating in Nineveh; therefore, a military agreement is also necessary.
The current proliferation of armed forces in Nineveh is of major concern. The multiple political actors often have diverging plans for the future of the province, and they are all linked to different militias. Without an understanding of the future security structure in Nineveh, the individual forces can fill the power vacuum left by IS or direct their attention to smaller localized conflicts. Having numerous active forces under different commands with different objectives could lead to both inter- and intra-community conflict and acts of revenge that would only further the cycle of violence in the region, a fact highlighted by a Sunni member of the NPC:
The very big factions in Nineveh, I can see that they have this tendency to create military groups to implement their political will and show their political force.35
One member of the NPC opined that failure to reach an agreement and to get rid of all these factions will lead to "warlords" as in the case of Afghanistan.36 The fact that many of these forces lack legitimacy, proper training, equipment and even money for salaries creates the opportunity for the Iraqi government and coalition to influence them to amalgamate and unify under one command structure.
It is essential that there be a local element to the liberation of Mosul, particularly for the fighting within the city, a point continuously raised in interviews with NPC members. Thus, there should have been support and capacity development of local forces in order for them to participate. As already highlighted, this also needs to include a deal for these forces to come together under a proper command structure. Although the Government of Iraq promised to help the NPC develop a force of 15,000 troops, members of the council have highlighted many times the lack of actual support to bring this to fruition:
With regards to the local forces' capabilities, it is not that great….They are also in the diaspora and there is no logistical support and there is no military camp for training.37
We are now actually in negotiation with the central government and the Americans to put together a force of 15,000 of the people of Nineveh. But I think in these circumstances we will face many difficulties and obstacles.38
Bringing together the multiple groups will be one way of creating a large local force, but this also has to involve training and the development of a proper command structure. There is still time to develop the security capacity of the local population, as it is not only intrinsic to the liberation operation; it is also necessary to ensure peace and stability following the defeat of IS.
Once liberated, the local communities have to work together to take control of both the political and security systems in Nineveh. In order to avoid a proliferation of armed militias in post-IS Nineveh, these groups need to be incorporated into the new security system. Worryingly, when this potential problem following the defeat of IS was posed to members of the NPC, there seemed to be a nonchalant, almost cavalier, attitude among the majority of the participants towards this concern, with very little reflection on the real possibility of conflict. Many did voice the concern, however, that former Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi would use his force, Hashd al-Watani, to gain influence and power in post-IS Mosul — a point he denied. But both Nujaifi and his force are seen as illegitimate by the central government and some members of the NPC, so there is a real possibility of conflict between them. The fact that all these militias operating in Iraq have different regional backers is additional cause for concern, further compounding the need for both a political and a security agreement prior to liberation and for the territorial integrity of Iraq to be respected post-IS.
It is imperative that these forces come together under one umbrella, within the Iraqi army's domain. The following statement highlights this point:
We have this agreement that there will be 15,000 volunteers from all the components of Nineveh and this Hashd will be responsible for holding the ground. If all the components of Nineveh participate in this Hashd and we will find a name that does not represent any one group, but rather the entire province, so we can get rid of all these name games and separation. We have Hashd Da Nawada that represents the Shabak, Hashd al-Watani that represents Atheel, we have a Hashd from all the Jabouri tribes etc…. We have to bring them all together under one name to bring all the communities together and not have a name that favours one group.39
Bringing the various militant groups under one command will help ensure the future stability of the region and give the minorities a sense of protection, as they will be represented within the security apparatus. Having a unified force is also important for security post-IS. If local groups hold the ground, as opposed to those identified as foreign, it will speed up normalization and give all communities a connection to the liberation process.
Beyond the need for local forces to participate in the liberation, it is also important to understand the role of the participating forces. The recent battle in Fallujah is an example of how not to liberate a city and provides lessons to be learned from failure. Questions can be asked about the lack of a post-conflict plan, the participation of the Hashd al-Shaabi and the rush to begin the operation. There are numerous reports of torture and murder having been carried out by the Hashd al-Shaabi, as well as of the unnecessary destruction of the city.40 These actions must not be repeated. It is important not just to defeat IS militarily, but to overcome the need of some Sunnis to seek representation outside the political system. Acts of torture, murder, false accusations and unnecessary destruction by a force backed by the government do nothing toward this goal.
As already highlighted, the NPC has voted against the participation of the Hashd al-Shaabi in the liberation of Mosul. The former governor claims that the "Hashd al-Shaabi will never be accepted at all [by the people of Mosul.]"41 NPC members really fear for the people if the Hashd al-Shaabi participates, as evident in the following quotes:
I think their participation will be very negative and the outcome is catastrophic….If they are part of the liberation forces of Mosul, I think some people will stand with Daesh against any liberation force. Not because they like Daesh's mentality, but in hatred of the Shiite militias, especially after the violations they have committed against Sunnis.42
I don't see the necessity of having the Hashd al-Shaabi as part of this coalition; it will give it a sectarian look and will lead to people being accused of being Daesh members. It must be clear of sectarianism.43
When discussing the Hashd al-Shaabi with members of the NPC, apart from the fear of what they would do to the people, most respondents also voiced concern about Iranian encroachment into Iraqi territory. The way they articulated this demonstrated that Iraqi nationalism still persists strongly among many Arab Sunnis.
With the forces available for the liberation of Mosul, it appears unnecessary for the Hashd al-Shaabi to participate; their participation is political rather than a tactical move by the central government. Jabar Yawar, secetary general of the Peshmerga, stated that, although the Hashd al-Shaabi will participate, they will not be allowed to use Kurdish territory as a staging area for the battle.44 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, leader of a weak government, is over-reliant on the Hashd al-Shaabi and other Shiite militias — and, by extension, on Iran. However, the participation of the Hashd al-Shaabi has to be managed extremely carefully, and by no means should they be allowed to enter the city. Letting them do so would be extremely short-sighted; it will fuel the cycle of sectarian violence and make the defeat of IS a hollow victory. Part of managing the role of the Hashd al-Shaabi relates to managing the unwelcome role of Turkey in the offensive, and vice versa, as each has threatened to increase its participation based on the role of the other.45 This is a delicate balancing act that Baghdad needs help from the coalition forces to maintain.
It is important to note that many of the militias within the Hashd al-Shaabi consist of extremely experienced fighters and have not carried out any unlawful acts. However, to the residents living in Mosul, the Hashd al-Shaabi is all the same; there is no differentiation between the forces. Therefore, their participation has to be limited.
Moreover, IS would use the entrance of the Hashd al-Shaabi into the city for propaganda purposes, to make the population think it is a sectarian war, as evident in the following quote:
This is something Daesh has been preparing for. Daesh has been showing the people of Mosul the abuses committed by the Hashd al-Shaabi to make them fear their arrival.46
This is where the role of the United States in the process is of paramount importance. Washington is in a position to influence the role the forces play. The U.S. role in deciding the participating forces was highlighted by one NPC member when the participation of Hashd al-Shaabi was mentioned to him:
I think the only ultimate decision maker when it comes to what forces can participate or not is the Americans, who will have the final say in who can participate.47
Thus, it is important that the United States use this position of power to prevent the Hashd al-Shaabi from participating in the battle within the city and Turkey from participating at all. However, due to the nature of the Hashd al-Shaabi and the fact that much of it is under Iranian rather than Iraqi influence, this may have to include brokering a deal with Iran.
Nevertheless, most local leaders agree that their forces must play a leading role, alongside the Iraqi army, in entering the city, backed up by the Peshmerga from the north and east, while receiving air and logistical support from the coalition forces. It is also important for the population of Mosul to know that local forces are involved in liberating them. First, this mitigates the sectarian element and any notion of an invasion rather than a liberation. Second, having local forces involved can somewhat diminish the fear of retribution and revenge. Finally, following the battle, there will be a period of holding the city, and local forces will be key to this effort, to lessen any fear of occupation. This point was highlighted by the chair of security in the NPC:
We do need forces that can hold the ground after the liberation, and that has to be regional forces. Representation should also be equal and just, and be based on the representation of the communities within the province. I think this is one of the solutions so that the people of Nineveh don't feel as if they are misrepresented.48
Alongside local forces, the Iraqi army has been highlighted as the next-most important actor and one that should enter the city. In addition, the Peshmerga have been praised continuously in interviews with NPC members; their role in the operation was never questioned. At the same time, it was made clear that their role should be limited and that it is unnecessary for the Peshmerga to enter the city. This is an opinion shared by the de facto president of the KRI, Masoud Barzani;49 therefore, on the surface at least, there is no fear of the Peshmerga's entering the city.50 However, the Peshmerga do have a very important role to play in securing the northern and eastern fronts and in vetting and sheltering those who escape through these routes.
Despite complaints about the historical role of the United States in Iraq, all but one participant was positive, even insisting on U.S. involvement in the liberation of Mosul. The international coalition forces are playing a major role in planning, as well as in providing air and logistical support. Without their participation, the battle would be far more difficult. However, there have been calls for them to play a bigger role on the ground as a supervisory force to prevent the types of abuses witnessed in Fallujah and Tikrit.51 In the opinion of one NPC member:
I would like for the international community to have a peacekeeping force for the liberation of Mosul and to prepare the ground for reconstruction and for fair and transparent elections, and then for the transference of power between the international force and the local representatives and local force made up during this time.52
By taking a larger role on the ground, the international forces (particularly the United States) can help to ensure the safety of civilians and that a proper process is in place for dealing with suspected members of IS.
There is an argument that the people of Mosul have lived under IS for too long, thus the liberation had to begin as soon as possible. Or that the longer it took for the liberation to begin, the longer IS had to prepare and to continue developing chemical weapons.53 However, lasting damage can be caused by not planning properly for the post-offensive era. If the political and structural failures in Iraq are not addressed, the underlying issues will not be solved, and IS will return in one way or another. It is disappointing that almost two-and-a-half years have passed, during which a political and security deal could have been forged prior to any liberation. That time has not been used wisely.
It is essential that prior to the completion of the liberation these political and security deals be made. There needs to be an agreement for decentralization of Nineveh Province to remove the prospect of marginalization, one of the leading causes of the rise of IS. Additionally, there needs to be an agreement among local actors for the governance structure of a decentralized Nineveh. Closely linked, there needs to be an arrangement for the multiple militias to come together as a single force, particularly for the post-IS security of the province. Finally, there needs to be a deal among the local actors, the KRG and Baghdad for a new mechanism to decide the fate of the disputed territories.
Although this article has only addressed the need for a political and security deal, and the make-up of the participatory forces, there are multiple other factors that need addressing. More preparation is needed for IDPs, as are agreements for the reconstruction and redevelopment of the province. Additionally, plans for justice and reconciliation need to be formulated and agreed upon by all the actors. Finally, assistance that allows the society to move on — deradicalization and PTSD programs, education systems, and so on — also need to be implemented. All of this should have been developed a long time ago, but it is imperative that as much as possible be done prior to Mosul's being liberated, however soon that may be.
IS has created one positive element: it has brought Iraqis together in the face of a common enemy. There is an opportunity for the rebirth of Mosul, and perhaps addressing the issues raised in this article will foster new life for that historic city.
1 Although referred to as the Islamic State in this article, this term only came into being after a caliphate was declared on June 29, 2014, and it was formerly known, and is often still referred to, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It is also often referred to as Daesh (the majority of the interviewees used this term), which is based on the Arabic acronym of its name and has negative connotations.
2 Dylan O'Driscoll, "And the Marginalisation Goes On: Iraq and the Politics of Domination," MERI Policy Brief 3, no. 14 (September 2016).
3 Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli, "Iraq to Defeat Isis in 2016, Says Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, as Army Retakes Ramadi," The Telegraph, December 28, 2015.
4 See "British Defense Minister Discussed Looming Mosul Operation During Erbil Visit," Rudaw, September 22, 2016; and "Germany 'Will Take Part in the Battle for Mosul,'" New Arab, September 24, 2016.
5 See "Top-Level Kurdish Delegation in Baghdad ahead of Looming Mosul Offensive," Rudaw, September 29, 2016.
6 Delshad Abdullah, "Washington, Baghdad, Erbil Agree on Mosul Battle," Asharq Al-Awsat, September 20, 2016.
7 See "Mosul: Iraqi Army Battles ISIL in 'Historic Operation,'" Al Jazeera, October 17, 2016.
8 In conversations between the author and high-level Iraqi and coalition officials it has not only been highlighted that a political deal has not been reached, but also that there has not even been an attempt to bring the rival political actors to the same negotiating table.
9 Michael Knights, "Islamic State Conflict: How Will the Battle for Mosul Unfold?" BBC News, October 4, 2016.
10 Dylan O'Driscoll. "The Future of Mosul: Before, During, and after the Liberation." MERI Policy Reports, September 2016.
11 Dylan O'Driscoll, "Autonomy Impaired: Centralisation, Authoritarianism and the Failing Iraqi State," Ethnopolitics (2015): 1-18.
12 The Sahwa forces were a Sunni force created in 2005, although only formalised in 2006, to fight al-Qaeda in the Sunni region of Iraq. For more, see Myriam Benraad, "Iraq's Tribal 'Sahwa': Its Rise and Fall," Middle East Policy 18, no. 1 (2011): 121-31.
13 Renad Mansour, "The Sunni Predicament in Iraq," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2016), http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/03/03/sunni-predicament-in-iraq-pub-6….
14 For more on this process, see Dylan O'Driscoll, "The Costs of Inadequacy: Violence and Elections in Iraq," Ethnopolitics Papers, no. 27 (2014): 1-29.
15 See Dylan O'Driscoll, "Autonomy Impaired: Centralisation, Authoritarianism and the Failing Iraqi State."
16 Dylan O'Driscoll, "U.S. Policy in Iraq: Searching for the Reverse Gear?" Middle East Policy 23, no. 1 (2016): 34-41.
17 Myriam Benraad, "Iraq's Tribal 'Sahwa.'"
18 See Toby Dodge, "State and Society in Iraq Ten Years after Regime Change: The Rise of a New Authoritarianism," International Affairs 89, no. 2 (2013): 241-57; Marwan Ibrahim, "New Iraq Army HQ Sends Arab-Kurd Ties to New Low," Middle East Online, November 16, 2012; and Dylan O'Driscoll, "The Costs of Inadequacy: Violence and Elections in Iraq," Ethnopolitics Papers, no. 27 (2014): 1-29.
19 Duraid Adnan, "Deadly Turn in Protests against Iraqi Leadership," New York Times, January 25, 2013; "Dozens of Iraqi MPs Quit over Anbar Violence," Al Jazeera, December 31, 2013; Dylan O'Driscoll, "The Costs of Inadequacy: Violence and Elections in Iraq"; and David Romano, "Iraq's Descent into Civil War: A Constitutional Explanation," Middle East Journal 68, no. 4 (2014): 547-66.
20 Aied Raheel, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
22 Hassan Al-Sabawi, interview by author, Erbil, June 29, 2016.
23 Atheel Al-Nujaifi, interview by author, Erbil, June 30, 2016.
24 The Hashd-al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), is a state-sponsored military umbrella organization consisting of over 40, mainly Shiite, militias, a number of which have links to Iran.
25 "Abadi Says Hashd Al-Shaabi Will Participate in Fight for Mosul," NRT, September 03, 2016.
26 Ammar Karim and Safa Majeed, "Iraq Parliament Impeaches Defence Minister," Middle East Eye, August 25, 2016.
27 Dylan O'Driscoll, "The Future of Mosul: Before, During, and after the Liberation."
28 Omar Sattar, "What's Next for Iraq's Anbar after Liberation from IS?" Al-Monitor, June 30, 2016.
29 Atheel Al-Nujaifi, interview by author, Erbil, June 30, 2016.
30 The disputed territories of Iraq are those areas that had their borders changed by the previous regime and now involve disputes over the ownership of these areas. They involve Kirkuk, Diyala, Nineveh, Salah al-Din and the provinces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
31 Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution calls for the implementation of Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) by December 31, 2007. Article 58 calls for the normalisation of the disputed territories of Iraq, followed by a census and then a referendum on the future constitutional status (technically, whether to join the KRI or not).
32 Dylan O'Driscoll, "The Future of Mosul: Before, During, and after the Liberation."
33 "Exclusive: Kurdish PM Says Mosul Operation Still in 'Planning Stage,'" Voice of America News, July 24, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/content/exclusive-kurdish-prime-minister-mosul-o….
34 Tallha Abdulrazaq and Gareth Stansfield, "The Day After: What to Expect in Post-Islamic State Mosul," RUSI Journal (2016): 1-7.
35 Aied Raheel, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
36 Hassan Al-Sabawi, interview by author, Erbil, June 29, 2016.
37 Aied Raheel, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
38 Ahmed Ali Khideir, interview by author, Erbil, June 15, 2016.
39 Hassan Al-Sabawi, interview by author, Erbil, June 29, 2016.
40 See Munaf Al-Obeidi, "Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi Burns Down Homes in Fallujah," Asharq Al-Awsat, June 29, 2016; "Iraq: Fallujah Abuses Test Control of Militias," Human Rights Watch, June 9, 2016; Salam Khoder, "Fallujah Civilians: 'Militias Take Turns to Torture Us,'" Al Jazeera, June 16, 2016; and "Anbar Governor Lists Evidence of Torture, Killing by Shiite Militia in Fallujah," Rudaw, June 11, 2016.
41 Atheel Al-Nujaifi, interview by author, Erbil, June 30, 2016.
42 Ahmed Ali Khideir, interview by author, Erbil, June 15, 2016.
43 Aied Raheel, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
44 This was stated during a roundtable discussion in which the author participated. See http://www.meri-k.org/roundtable-on-the-future-of-mosul-before-during-a….
45 See "Turkey Opposes Iraqi Shiite Militia Going to Tal Afar," Rudaw, October 30, 2016; and "We Are Awaiting PM's Order to Attack the Turkish Troops: Hashd Al-Shaabi," Basnews, November 1, 2016.
46 Mahmoud Al-Jabouri, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
47 Mohamed Abdullah Al-Jabouri, interview by author, Erbil, June 28, 2016.
48 Mohammed Al-Bayati, interview by author, Erbil, June 16, 2016.
49 Barzani's presidency is not recognised by all parties and there are calls for him to step down, as he has been president beyond both his two terms and the two-year extension granted by parliament, which ended in August 2015.
50 "Barzani Meets Senior U.S. Officials on Mosul Offensive," NRT English, August 1, 2016.
51 Dylan O'Driscoll, "Defeating the Islamic State Will Take More than Gunpowder," MERI Policy Brief 3, no. 9 (2016).
52 Aied Raheel, interview by author, Erbil, June 21, 2016.
53 Spencer Ackerman, "Islamic State Fired Crude Chemical Weapons on U.S. Troops – Pentagon," The Guardian, September 22, 2016.