An Iraqi stands guard at the Saint John’s church in the Christian-Shabak contested town of Qaraqosh in Nineveh Province on December 25, 2016. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the focus of the military operations against ISIS militants shifting to security, the return of civilians, and stabilization, a prominent US think tank analyst believes that Kurds can help with security in Nineveh and that locals should be recruited for security and army posts in their own areas.
“Outside forces (such as militiamen brought from beyond the Nineveh Plains) should be excluded from local security arrangements wherever possible, perhaps being displaced by local men,” wrote Michael Knights, a Lafer Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Currently there is a mix of Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Christian and Shabak armed groups as well as the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi in the area.
A recent report released by the Erbil-based Middle East Research Institute (MERI) summarized that Sunnis view many Shiite units in the area as an extension of Iranian interests.
In his analysis, Knights believes that the congregation of so many forces in this area may lead to serious tensions.
“Given the lack of a coordination mechanism, tensions between the security forces will likely boil over in the coming months,” writes Knights, speaking of the security situation in Nineveh.
He suggests that the United States could have a continued role in post-Mosul liberation security.
“The Nineveh Plains would be an ideal setting for a system akin to the Combined Security Mechanisms [CSM], implemented by the U.S. military in 2009-11 to create trilateral U.S.-Iraqi-Kurdish patrols, checkpoints, and headquarters,” he wrote.
The CSM ended in 2011 under the leadership US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Now, Kurdish and Iraqi officials have expressed their desire for a US presence in Iraq post-ISIS.
“The area desperately needs the U.S.-led coalition to help develop confidence- and security-building measures that can reduce the risk for clashes between the forces, improve security coordination, support reconstruction, and thus pave the way for repatriation of internally displaced persons from camps in the Kurdistan Region,” Knights believes.
“Although the Nineveh Plains is mostly part of Nineveh province, a federal-administered governorate headquartered in Mosul, the Kurds have long expressed their willingness to extend protection to any communities on the plains that wish to join the Kurdistan Region,” he adds.