Mayhem or Peace after Mosul Offensive
Recapturing Mosul Iraq’s second largest city from Isis may had been the easy part. My project started following on the ground the battle to retake the city with the aim to document and understand if a declaration of victory from Baghdad will be the prelude to other major problems and instability fuelled by the presence of Shia militias and the Iraqi forces who will take control of the city where the residents are mostly Sunni.
According to some observers Isis’s takeover of Mosul was a referendum not only on the ineffectiveness of Iraqi security and government establishments but a populist expression of class warfare where Sunni, who represent the majority of the population in the city, viewed the movement as a means to mobilise.
Using the words of the prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Mosul was “a battle of national destiny”. It’s from this words that my project, already ongoing, started: I began following the battle of Mosul since the beginning for continuing documenting the social, economical and political situation even now that the battle is over.
What will happen now to Mosul and it’s population after Isis has been pushed out? During the Mosul operation many ethnic and sectarian groups fought together under a single roof to drive out Isis from Iraq, nevertheless, nobody really knows how regional dynamics will change now that the extremist group is defeated in the city.
And it’s right from the battle field, where all ethnic and sectarian groups have coalesced together, that my project starts to move over and analyse the dynamic of a new political process to understand if a military victory in Mosul is sufficient to build up an Iraq state apparatus or it will be just another chapter in the country’s history of instability and violence.
Mosul is the centre of Sunni Iraq with a small number of Shia residents. The people of Mosul are sensitive to the possibility of Iranian-backed Shia militias trying to take over the city. Given to the previous experiences of Shia militias “liberating” Sunni towns such as Falluja and Ramadi that have led to accusations of sectarian atrocities, this project is significant to a deeper understanding if in the absence of strong leadership or a political pact that addresses the country’s various social cleavages, the loss of a common enemy will increase competition both among and between Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian blocs.
Mosul is symbolising more than an oncoming military success against Daesh, but also a representative sample to interpret the course of evolving local and regional dynamics in the Middle East.
There is deep anxiety within Iraq’s minority communities over the future role of powerful Shia militias that have been accused of retaliatory violence against Sunni civilians. The aim of my project is trying to answer the question if high levels of violence and instability are likely to persist even now that Iraqi forces have defeated Isis militarily.