Skip to main content

Iraqis bicker over liberating Mosul

Arab disputes over leadership and relations with Baghdad and the Kurds, as well as Kurdish disinterest in defending Sunni Arab territories, are complicating efforts to defeat the Islamic State in a highly fragmented Iraq.
Sunni volunteers from Mosul take part in military training as they prepare to fight against militants of the Islamic State on the outskirts of Dohuk province December 8, 2014. Picture taken December 8, 2014.    REUTERS/Ari Jalal  (IRAQ - Tags - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4IEJV
Read in 

Plans to liberate Mosul, a key stronghold of the Islamic State (IS), are gaining momentum in Iraq. Many Sunni Arabs who initially tolerated IS are now seeking revenge for its killing families and friends and confiscating their property. Sunni Arab forces are being organized, trained and armed in Erbil to counter IS with the cooperation of the Iraqi federal government, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Mosul provincial council and the US-led coalition. Still, this effort is complicated by intra-Sunni Arab disputes over leadership and relations with Baghdad and the Kurds, as well as Kurdish disinterest in liberating and protecting Sunni Arab territories. These disputes highlight the challenges of not only degrading IS, but stabilizing Mosul in a highly fragmented Iraqi state.

Most local populations brutalized by IS want to liberate Mosul. Those who have thus far joined the Sunni Arab force are mainly displaced Mosulawis residing in the Kurdistan Region and organized by Atheel al-Nujaifi, Ninevah province governor “in exile.” Nujaifi not only wants to re-secure his political position and Mosul city, but establish and lead a larger Sunni Arab region like the Kurdistan Region. Nujaifi has advanced his political agenda with backing from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.