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Why Mosul’s security and stability are important to Kurdistan

By Paul Iddon 20/9/2016
All eyes are now on Mosul. Photo: Farzin Hassan/Rudaw
All eyes are now on Mosul. Photo: Farzin Hassan/Rudaw
As the coalition gears up for the impending operation to free Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) the question of how important Mosul’s stability is for the neighbouring Kurdistan Region is now more pressing than ever. 

Even though ISIS has not yet been forced from Mosul, already one of the main concerns of the Kurdistan Region is guaranteeing the stability of Iraq’s second-city after those militants are removed. 

Early focus on post-operation planning indicates that those with a stake in Mosul’s future want to ensure their victory over ISIS is a permanent one. 

“Mosul is very important for Kurdistan Region,” Beriwan Khailany, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament and member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), told Rudaw English. “To have a secure area in that part of Iraq is important for Erbil because if it is not secure Kurdistan will be negatively affected as a result.” 

US President Obama met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi this week and told him that post-ISIS Mosul needs to be rebuilt and stabilized in “a way that assures that not only ISIL does not come back but that its extremist ideology born out of desperation will not return.”

The Kurdistan Region’s President Masoud Barzani touched upon a similar theme last week when he discussed the importance of having a “political plan” ready for Mosul after it is liberated. 

These statements indicate an acute awareness of the importance of a post-ISIS plan for Mosul. 

The fall of Mosul and the wider Nineveh region to ISIS in the summer of 2014 did, after all, directly affect the Kurdistan Region’s security (some 1,400 Kurdish Peshmerga have been killed defending their region) as well as its economy.  

That fact alone indicates, as Khailany says, that the security and stability of Nineveh is, in a sense, tied to the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region. 

Dylan O’Driscoll, a research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) in Erbil, told Rudaw English that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “is in desperate need of stability in the region in order for investment to return,” due to the crippling financial crisis it is suffering.

“Therefore the stabilization of Mosul is extremely important to them,” O’Driscoll added. “Having chaos at your doorstep does nothing to encourage international investment.” 

However, O’Driscoll feels the necessary steps to achieve this are not being taken. 

“For this stability to happen there needs to be multiple political agreements and significant non-military planning prior to any liberation and I fear this is still not happening,” he said. 

It is not all doom and gloom though. O’Driscoll believes that the Kurdistan Region can foster new alliances with emerging actors in the post-ISIS future of Mosul. 

“Since the Islamic State has gained control of Mosul, relations between the KRG and the Sunni political actors of Mosul have improved immensely, largely due to the fact that the KRG is hosting and supporting the Nineveh Provincial Council,” he explained. 

“Therefore,” he concluded, “the KRG can use the liberation of Mosul as an opportunity to forge new alliances within wider Iraqi politics with their neighbouring province.” 

Maintaining cordial relations with the new authorities in post-ISIS Mosul is also likely to stabilize the wider region and allow the Kurdistan Region to focus more on winning foreign investment and rebuilding its shattered economy. 

For now, however, the more immediate issue the Kurdistan Region is likely to face is the prospect of receiving hundreds of thousands more displaced people fleeing Mosul and seeking sanctuary when this operation, which the coalition and Iraq hope to launch before the end of the year, commences.  

The KRG and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs are warning that they do not have enough money to facilitate another large influx of displaced people into that region. 

If Mosul’s residents do choose to flee en masse when this operation begins, as their counterparts in the much smaller city of Fallujah did this summer, the Kurdistan Region may well become inundated with more displaced people, adding to the strain that Mosul’s fall has placed on Kurdistan.


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T.I. | 20/9/2016
So much is at stake for KRG that's it's crucial the Peshmerga forces fully participate in the upcoming offensive and hold all new ground to insure both Sunni and Kurdistans stability and interest. Iran will be the major problem here as they'll do everything in their power to sabotage a stable Mosul after liberation, they're not going to want a stable/strong Sunni or Kurdish entity, and definitely not two that cooperate together under Turkish influence so they'll do anything and everything to start conflicts between the differnet parties. It's here where the United States must come in and make sure Iran and Iranian proxies are driven completely out from central/northern Iraq and of course from Kurdistan. Iran sphere of influence can be from Baghdad and southwards.
duroi | 21/9/2016
Currently ISIS threatens the eastern borders of KRG and the Shiites militia threaten the southern borders of KRG. Post ISIS these Shiite militias will threaten both eastern and southern borders of KRG and the risks to KRG could increase dramatically if KRG only blindly trust the empty promises of Baghdad and allies. I would rather see KRG declare independence now that the current risks are at least manageable. Post-ISIS, the risks to independence project could be far greater than now.
Mohamedzz | 21/9/2016
Iran as well Turkey should be out of Mosul
martin archer | 22/9/2016
It is quite foolish for the Kurds to fight outside of Kurdistan. They will gain nothing from it. The promises of the American political and military representatives are meaningless since they are about to be replaced as a result of the coming elections in America. The Kurds should not move an inch out of Kurdistan or shed one drop of blood until the US recognizes Kurdistan and provides modern weapons.
Circassian 4Ever | 22/9/2016
The Kurds should be allowed to occupy part of Mosul post-liberation.

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