Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mosul Slips Out of Control

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Mosul, Iraq.

When the 3,000 men of the mainly Kurdish 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Iraqi Army go on patrol it is at night, after the rigorously enforced curfew starts at 8pm. Their vehicles, bristling with heavy machine guns, race through the empty streets of the city, splashing through pools of sewage, always trying to take different routes to avoid roadside bombs. “The government cannot control the city,” said Hamid Effendi, an experienced ex-soldier who is Minister for Peshmerga Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government.

He is influential in the military affairs of Mosul province with its large Kurdish minority, although it is outside the Kurdish region. He believes: “The Iraqi Army is only a small force in Mosul, the Americans do not leave their bases much and some of the police are connected to the terrorists.” In the days since a suicide bomber killed 43 young men waiting to join the Iraqi army at a recruitment centre near Mosul last week soldiers in the city have been expecting a second attack.

“We are not leaving the base in daytime because we know other bombers are waiting for us,” said a soldier at a base near Mosul’s city centre.

Saadi Pire, until recently the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Mosul, says bluntly that the 12,000 police “are police by day and terrorists by night. They should all be dismissed and other police brought in from outside.”

He thinks that Mosul, the northern capital of Iraq with a population of 1.7 million, could erupt at any moment. He points out that it is difficult to pacify because so much of Saddam Hussein’s army–some 250,000 soldiers and 30,000 officers–was recruited from there.

General Muthafar Deirky, the ebullient commander of the 3rd Brigade, is more confident about the government’s grip the city. He has been stationed there since November 11, 2004 when, in one of the least publicized disasters of the US occupation of Iraq, insurgents captured the city as the police and army deserted en masse. Some 11,000 weapons and vehicles worth $40m were lost.

The American media was almost entirely embedded with the US Marines who were engaged in the bloody battle for Fallujah, population 350,000, so the outside world did not notice that the anti-American resistance had captured a city five times as large.

General Deirky, a peshmerga veteran, was called in a panic by the army commander in Baghdad who told him that “Mosul was under the control of terrorists”. He gathered 700 men and, having fought off two ambushes, advanced into the city just in time to prevent the capture of the television station. He was dismayed to discover that out of an 1,800-strong Iraqi Army unit all but 30 Kurds had deserted.

After a brisk counter-attack by the 3rd Brigade and American troops the guerrillas evaporated having chosen not, as in Fallujah, to stand and fight. General Deirky says most of the resistance cells were later eliminated.

He claims that the situation is very different today when the people of Mosul “welcome us, hate the terrorists and give us information about them”. But the general’s own account of recent events in the city show the depth of the divisions between Arabs and Kurds as well the Arab hostility to the occupation.

For instance at the end of last year the Arab chief of police Ahmed al-Jibouri, appointed after the uprising, was dismissed with 40 of his officers for aiding the insurgents. “He was telling people that every family should have one of its members in the resistance,” recalled the general.

In reality, Mosul city, like so many places in Iraq, is an ethnic minefield which the US has sought to negotiate with varying success since the overthrow of Saddamin 2003. At first US commanders did not want Kurdish forces in the city fearing the reaction of the Arabs.

General David Petraeus of the 101st Airborne tried to bring on board the Sunni Arabs but when he left this policy languished. Since November 2004 Arabs in the province claim that the US has simply joined forces with the Kurds after the mass desertion of the Arab police and army.

“The Americans are now just one more of the tribes of Mosul,” said one Arab source alleging that the CIA got all its information from Kurdish intelligence.

Most soldiers have an ethnic map of Mosul imprinted on their brain. “I feel safer now because there is nothing but Kurdish villages from now on,” said a driver, with a sign of a relief, as we drove away from the city.

For the moment nobody is wholly in control and most expect more fighting.

 

 

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail