Iraqi city Mosul slowly regaining lost identity

News Bharati English    31-Oct-2016

Baghdad, Oct 31: The Islamic State (IS) has failed in its plan to destroy Mosul and its multicultural identity, according to the President of the Commission on Security and Defence of the northern province of Iraq, Mohammad Al Bayati.

The AsiaNews quoted him saying that Al Bayati was hopeful of the better future thanks to the offensive launched by the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga Kurdish militias.

Analysts, politicians and religious leaders claim that the IS has not destroyed the multicultural spirit of the city of Mosul. However, it will take its time to restore its multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious nature. There is a hope that the young people will return to Mosul.  

Iraqi Politicians, religious and institutional leaders, including the Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako, recall the ‘multi-cultural’ past of the city, which must return to being the ‘crossroads’ of ethnicities, religions, different cultures and dialects, and colorful customs.

The IS jihadists were still putting resistance to the advance of the coalition soldiers. Mosul, a northwestern Iraqi city and capital of Nineveh province, felled to the IS on June 10, 2014 after a three-day fight between the jihadists and Iraqi army.

However, the soldiers were rendered leaderless due to fight of commanders and senior officers. These soldiers got scattered throwing off their uniforms and weapons and helped by the local people, they were disguised in civilian clothes. People have not forgotten the betrayal by the military.

The journalists of Al Mowsaliya were prohibited from movement during those hectic days and could not document the unexplained withdrawal of the Iraqi government from Mosul. The city fell hostage to an obscurantist ideology, announcing the return of the Islamic Caliphate led by a terrorist who had been interned for years in the US Camp Bucca in Iraq, and later became famous under the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Two years on the frustration is still evident in the words of Nur Eddin Kabalan, vice-president of the provincial council of Nineveh province, which defines the inexplicable decision of the central government to allow such an unprecedented disaster.

The abandonment of Mosul, he said, with all that it represents historically and for harmony between the various ethnic and religious groups is the mirror ‘of the central government’s political errors’.  Added to these ‘disagreements’ between central and local government, is the ‘resentment’ felt toward the city of Mosul which had always been an example of coexistence" in a nation torn apart by ethnic, sectarian and tribal divisions.

Before the attack popular discontent with the central government in Baghdad had increased in Mosul, fomented by cases of corruption, injustice and marginalization besetting the province of Nineveh. This rift created between the inhabitants of Mosul and Baghdad led many to believe that the Islamic State (IS) would be able to find support and popularity among the inhabitants of Mosul.

Many analysts believe the Caliphate would have been more popular in Mosul if it had not, as indeed it did later, applied the most strict and inhuman practices of a takfiri Islam, very different from that professed in the region.

Among the first measures enforced by IS, was the release of criminals and terrorists from prisons, to incorporate them in the ranks of the army of the Caliphate. Next, the robbery of banks and treasuries of the public administration, including the headquarters of the television station Al Mawsoliya, reduced to pure silence. The militiamen then seized – in  Mosul alone - over 500 homes of people who fled, assigning them to foreign Daesh mercenaries.

This expropriation was also favored by the flight of Christians and members of other religious minorities, dispossessed of their property and their resources (the infamous houses marked with the letter "N"), re-distributed to the jihadists. Once they had ascertained the inability of the people to react, Daesh started to enforce punitive laws relying strictly to the dictates of sharia.

The following months were filled with cruelty, injustice, violence, deprivation of rights of all kinds, religious despotism, and crimes against humanity that Mosul had never before experienced. Journalists, intellectuals, politicians and writers were eliminated one by one. Many political candidates found on the electoral roll; chiefs and provincial police officers, national and municipal employees disappeared into thin air, eliminated with new modes of torture and execution. Death sentences that the people of Mosul  described as "extremely cruel."

Iraqi deputy Nayef al Shummari has stated that "Mosul and the people of Nineveh were victims of genocide." The innocent, he says,  were subjected to "all sorts of death, burnt in the flames, drowned in rivers, thrown from the roofs, buried alive, crushed under the wheels of heavy vehicles, mutilated and torn to pieces ... horrible deaths."

What terrified the IS more than anything was moderate Islam and the multiplicity of religions, ethnicities and confessions; these have become its great enemies. Hence the subsequent decision to remove all moderate imams, arrested or simply eliminated. Then followed the destruction of mosques - more than 200 destroyed - the mausoleums and shrines of the prophets (especially the tomb of Jonah), and Christian churches, the worst desecration of Christian places of worship of the twenty-first century.

After the destruction of the cult, came the destruction of age-old monuments of the ancient story of Nineveh and Nimrud, unique and written statues reduced to powder, while other precious pieces were transferred to Turkey and sold on the black market.

The annihilation of treasures and exhibits was accompanied by the attempted genocide of a people, the Yazidi, with the men slaughtered and women sold as sex slaves to fighters, and the children kidnapped. It is a modern society that helps to attract fighters from various Arab and Muslim countries, lured by high salaries and the license to kill, steal, and rape.

It was only with the beginning of the West's awareness about the danger of the IS that gave birth to a timid and often contradictory international coalition, and a ground force to begin fighting the jihadists. In half a year this international coalition has achieved pallid results in the fight against the IS, particularly with regard to the drying up of funds and sources of livelihood and of the IS illicit trafficking art and oil.

The offensive for the liberation of Mosul, which started on October 18 last, at the hands of Iraqi armed forces and Kurdish Peshmerga militias intend to uproot all traces of jihadist presence from the city and the plain of Nineveh.

Nayef Al Shemmari, a deputy from Nineveh in Iraqi Parliament, hopes that the young people of Nineveh will help liberate, along with the regular army, the city of Mosul, and return soon to the city. These young people, he warns must be among the liberators because history will  "not forgive" anyone who abandoned the city to herself and those who remained silent before the inhuman crimes committed in Nineveh.