View Full Version : Iraqi Ethnic Tensions Stoke Insurgency in Mosul

05-30-2007, 09:16 AM
Increased sectarian strife in Mosul (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/world/middleeast/30mosul.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print)- NYTIMES, 30 May.


While the American military is trying to tamp down the vicious fighting between rival Arab sects in Baghdad, conflict between Arabs and Kurds is intensifying here, adding another dimension to Iraq’s civil war. Sunni Arab militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the new security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials said.

Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, with a population of 1.8 million, straddles the Tigris River on a grassy, windswept plain in the country’s north. It was recently estimated to be about a quarter Kurdish, but Sunni Arabs have already driven out at least 70,000 Kurds and virtually erased the Kurdish presence from the city’s western half, said Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of surrounding Nineveh Province and a Kurd.

The militants “view this as a Sunni-dominated town, and they view the Kurds as encroaching on Mosul,” said Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of the Fourth Brigade, First Cavalry Division, which is deployed in Nineveh. Some Kurdish and Christian enclaves remain on the east side, though their numbers are dwindling. Kurdish officials say the flight has accelerated in recent months, contributing to the wider ethnic and religious partitioning that is taking place all over Iraq ...

11-16-2007, 04:15 PM
NPR piece from 16 NOV 2007 Morning Edition (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16339652)

In Mosul, there are no tribal "awakening councils" or "Concerned Local Citizens" brigades, the U.S.-funded project that has helped win over some Sunni tribes and former insurgents in parts of central and western Iraq. Here, creating a concerned local citizen or CLC brigade is simply unrealistic given the volatile ethnic tensions, says Col. Stephen Twitty. He commands the First Cavalry division's 4th brigade, which is responsible for Mosul and all of Nineveh province.

"It's very difficult and we want to make sure that we go about it correctly to ensure that we accommodate every ethnic group and we're not fueling the insurgency more by placing these CLCs in places where they do not need to be in place," Twitty says.

Rob Thornton
11-16-2007, 09:44 PM
Well - you know how even after a short time after you leave there you feel like you've lost touch - well being gone for 8 months and I feel dated - particularity with so many other things going on in Iraq.

East Mosul was more Kurd then Arab, and West Mosul more Arab then Kurd - and they layout is different - on the W. Side - the Kurds live in and amongst the larger Arab population, on the East side - it was more like enclaves. The story is 1/2 right when it says there is no tribal infrastructure there. There is, but its different. Its not like Anbar - on the inside - Mosul is a city with a long history that has made it different - the sheiks exert different levels of control and influence - more like a business city based on the commerce that comes through there - both now and historically. many of the "Sheiks" are not of the same making as in other places - many who claim to be sheiks are just guys with money and power.

As such I don't think you can approach it the same way as some other places (no templates) - what is needed there is a kind of board of directors buy in - one where everybody sees the potential profit from pooling their business interests and pursuing it from that line of effort - through time Mosul has been both a regional textile hub, and a place where commerce passes (at one point it was an Assyrian capital) - as such there is a real teamsters/organized crime/business district feel to the people there ( and there probably always will be) - the leaders must be co-opted through the potential for profit - they will put aside differences in favor of $$$. It will take a city leader who has a mind for business to work effectively with local elected leaders and the real power brokers - those with the money and connections (many of whom reside outside of Mosul, and some outside of Iraq) and can co-opt buy-in toward what the city could be if they were willing to work toward it. We used to joke and say Mosul needed a Rudy for mayor and a Bernard for a police chief - to overcome some of the inertia - I was always reminded of the 1930s period of business/organized crime.

Over time as different dynasties and conquers have come through Mosul - be they Khanates, Mogul or other - they have had to afford Mosul a certain degree of autonomy in order to get any revenue out of it. Even if a strong central government in Iraq is ever realized - Mosul (like other cities) will probably still retain an individuality that is part of its historical makeup.

Best, Rob

Rob Thornton
11-20-2007, 07:44 PM
that talks about what Mosul's AIF culture is like. The excerpt is from the back 1/2 of the article. Mosul is about $$$. LTC Welsh (see below) is the 2/7 CDR - a good officer and a good BN

Iraqis Joining Insurgency Less for Cause Than Cash (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/19/AR2007111902022.html)

....But Abu Nawall and his captors agreed that Iraqis were joining the insurgency out of economic necessity. "Of course we hate the Americans and want them gone immediately," Abu Nawall said. "But the reason I and many others joined the Islamic State of Iraq is to support our families."

Abu Nawall described himself as a middle-management accountant for the insurgency, but he acknowledged killing four Iraqi police officers because he viewed them as collaborators with the U.S. military. He said he was not primarily involved in ordering violent attacks.

Brig. Gen. Moutaa Habeeb Jassim, commander of the 2nd Division of the Iraqi army, which has been holding Abu Nawall since his capture earlier this fall, said he suspected the detainee was responsible for far more deaths and had been involved with the insurgency since last year. "Abu Nawall is not always telling the truth," Habeeb said.

The U.S. military has launched a propaganda effort to describe Abu Nawall and other insurgents as greedy in order to undermine support for al-Qaeda in Iraq and create infighting among insurgent groups.

In a memo to the provincial police chief, U.S. military officials provided him with a list of "talking points" that they asked him to repeat on local television. "We want these talking points to raise suspicion that higher level [al-Qaeda in Iraq] leaders are greedy and placing personal financial gain over the mission," the memo said.

The memo also said that Abu Nawall admitted that the group's leader in northern Iraq, known as Mohammed al Nada or Abu Basha'ir, had told fighters to attack civilians "to keep them in fear" of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The memo said he also confessed that the group "gets a lot of money through extortion and kidnapping of Iraqi citizens."

"He stated that most of this money stays with the higher level leaders while the fighters on the street get paid only a small amount," the memo said. Two leaders, identified as Mohammed Bazouna and Fuad, "are growing rich through these activities without paying their fighters salaries and giving them the resources to conduct effective attacks."

In the interview, however, Abu Nawall denied making the statements described in the memo. The document also referred to Abu Nawall as the group's emir, or leader, in Mosul, even though U.S. and Iraqi officials said in interviews that he was the deputy emir in the city.

American officials said that Abu Nawall is just the latest Sunni financier detained as part of a campaign this year to disrupt the group's funding networks. Twitty, the brigade commander in Mosul, said their effort started in April when they realized raids on low-level figures weren't as effective as they had hoped.

"We're killing a bunch of insurgents and capturing a bunch of insurgents, but we weren't really cutting the head of the snake," he said. "We said: How can we better conduct operations to cut the head off the snake? So we looked at finances. And we went after them hard."

The racketeering operations extended to nearly every type of business in the city, including a Pepsi plant, cement manufacturers and a cellphone company, which paid the insurgents $200,000 a month, Twitty said.

One of the biggest sources of income was a real estate scam, in which insurgents stole 26 ledgers that contained the deeds to at least $88 million worth of property and then resold them, according to Lt. Col. Eric Welsh, commander of the battalion responsible for Mosul.

Mosul is the central hub in Iraq for wiring money to the insurgency from Syria and other countries, Welsh said, with three of the largest banks in the country that transfer money operating branches in the city. He said U.S. forces have shut down several such money exchanges in Mosul.

U.S. forces detained a major al-Qaeda in Iraq financier Sept. 25 with a passport that showed he had been to Syria 30 times, according to a military summary of his capture.

Another man, captured by the Iraqi army Sept. 3, is thought to be the No. 1 al-Qaeda in Iraq financier in Nineveh province, responsible for negotiating the release of kidnapping victims, according to another military summary. It said he was found with checks totaling 775 million dinars, or $600,000.

Welsh said he thinks all the money that flowed into the al-Qaeda in Iraq network corrupted some of its leaders and drove them further away from the modest lifestyle that their religious ideology promotes.

"If what they are truly migrating into is money, money, money," he said, "then that means they are disenfranchised from what al-Qaeda stands for. What you end up getting is al-Qaeda being ineffective and diluted and being almost something else."

The challenge for U.S. troops is how to break the racketeering operations controlled by al-Qaeda in Iraq without destroying the legitimate business needed to rebuild the country. "It's just like gardening," Welsh said, "I could spray herbicide everywhere and easily kill all the weeds. But what's the point if I kill all the flowers, too?"

Best Rob

02-07-2008, 09:59 PM
ISN Security Watch, 7 Feb 08: Questioning the Mosul Offensive (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?id=18621)

With Iraqi and US forces poised for a major offensive in the northern city of Mosul, questions need to be asked concerning the wider strategic import of recent and upcoming security and political developments on the future stability of the country.

Residents of Mosul are reportedly stocking up on supplies as US and government reinforcements arrive ahead of what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki describes as a "decisive battle against al-Qaida."

The military buildup in Mosul is part of a large-scale offensive involving 24,000 US soldiers and 130,000 Iraqi troops, designed to root out purported al-Qaida-linked militants in several provinces.

Militants in Mosul have reportedly conducted around 30 attacks a day in recent months as al-Qaida and other anti-occupation Sunni movements reportedly regrouped in the city and surrounds following reverses in al-Anbar province and Baghdad.....

Rob Thornton
02-07-2008, 10:14 PM
24,000 US soldiers and 130,000 Iraqi troops - Open source media has reported the differences between Mosul and Baghdad - and the ways that it may effect operations. If the numbers hold true - even accounting for the support troops - this will 10 times what Mosul has seen in the last year or so.That is probably enough troops not only to get after the tactical problems within Mosul, but to conduct a greater operation in the surrounding areas - I think we'll be able to clear, build & hold - plus Interdict - the intent would seem to be not to allow the enemy to relocate. Mosul has allot of character as a city - and I think allot of potential too. God Speed to U.S. and ISF involved.

Best, Rob

10-30-2009, 03:03 PM
Terrorism Monitor, 23 Oct 09: Challenges to U.S. Proposal to Pacify Northern Iraq May Lead to Extended American Military Presence (http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=35637&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=26&cHash=2ca1428e73)

As the U.S. military prepares for rapid disengagement from Iraq following parliamentary elections to be held early next year, growing Arab-Kurdish tensions in northern Iraq over the ownership of “disputed territories” are emerging as the main threat to Iraqi stability. In response to rising violence and high-profile insurgent attacks in Ninawa province, U.S. General Raymond Odierno announced an initiative to facilitate Arab-Kurdish cooperation. But as elections approach, his proposal is facing political opposition and practical challenges that complicate U.S. plans to reduce ethnic tensions ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces in August 2010.

At the fault-line of the Arab-Kurdish conflict in northern Iraq is Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city and the capital of Ninawa province. Mosul is often characterized as an ethnic tinderbox, with its population consisting of 70% Sunni Arabs and 25% Kurds; the remaining residents include Arab Shi’a, Turcomans, Yezidis, and Christians. Home to a predominately Sunni population and well known as a former Ba’athist stronghold near the Syrian border, Mosul is an ideal locale for active insurgent support and recruitment. According to one report, as many as 300,000 inhabitants of the city offered to contribute to Ba’athist military, security, and intelligence efforts before Operation Iraqi Freedom.....
ICG, 28 Sep 09: Iraq's New Battlefront: The Struggle Over Ninewa (http://www.gulfinthemedia.com/files/article_en/489947.pdf)

.....Conflict chiefly has occurred where Arabs and Kurds vie for administrative control and where Iraq’s army and Kurdish peshmergas face off across an increasingly tense divide. On several occasions, these forces have come perilously close to head-on collision. Further contributing to the governorate’s growing instability and tinderbox quality is the vast array of official and unofficial armed groups: the national army and police; the Kurdistan regional government’s (KRG) security forces (peshmerga) and security police (asaesh); what remains of Sunni Arab insurgent groups; and tribal militias.

Caught between Arabs and Kurds are ethnic and religious minorities in whom the central government has evinced little interest. While Ninewa is majority Arab with a strong Kurdish minority, it also counts a number of smaller groups – Christians, Yazidis, Turkomans and Shabaks – that may comprise a mere 10 per cent of the population but are concentrated in disputed borderlands between Kurdistan and Arab Iraq. They have suffered a disproportionate share of the hardship caused by war, occupation and intercommunal violence and fight today for survival. At times co-opted, at others threatened by one of the camps, they have become vulnerable pawns in a contest that often sees them as little more than fodder. In August and September 2009, four bombings took over 100 lives and left many hundreds more wounded. For minorities, these have been among the deadliest of months....