Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

After the fall

Publication of a long-awaited report on last year’s fall of Mosul to Islamic State forces has been postponed, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The city of Mosul is still at the core of the problems in Iraq. In the bitter weather that has been hitting the region, the Iraqi parliament and government seem to have almost forgotten about the 1.5 million displaced Iraqis in the area of Mosul.

Almost half of them live in camps, sheltering under tents that cannot protect them from the heavy rains and severe cold. Snow blankets much of northern Iraq and many of the camps for the displaced are seas of mud.

On 22 December, the parliamentary investigative committee looking into the fall of Mosul to Islamic State (IS) forces stated that it would announce its results next week. The media quoted members of the committee as saying that it had conducted interviews “to determine the circumstances of the fall of Mosul at the hands of IS, adding that it would be interrogating other people during the next two weeks.”

But the results of the investigation were not announced, and the committee came under media and political attack for not doing its work properly. Many Iraqi TV channels became more like courts. The announcers behaved almost like judges when interviewing the high-ranking Iraqi army officers who were in Mosul at the time the city fell. The presidency of the parliament decided to establish another committee as a result.

Last Thursday, the parliament voted to form a new investigative committee to examine the reasons behind the fall of Mosul, the first of several cities to fall under the control of IS.

Nouraldeen Kaplan, vice-chairman of the Nineveh provincial council, told the Weekly it was waiting for a real investigation with real results. “The fall of Mosul had catastrophic results,” Kaplan said. “It changed the social fabric of the city and the towns around it.”

Investigations have been advancing in parallel with another important issue in the parliament, the annual budget, which is facing a deficit because of low international oil prices.

Economic experts are pessimistic, especially since Iraqi industry and agriculture have very low productivity and do not make any real contribution to the national income. Seventy-eight per cent of the annual budget goes on salaries and the budgets of the education, health and defence ministries. It seems that a policy of austerity will now be introduced and taxes applied to the Internet, mobile phones and cars.

Amidst these problems, displaced Iraqis are still trying to cope with worsening hardships. Many NGOs are trying to help them but the aid has not been sufficient. The parliament has applied to the governmental committee in charge of the displacement issue, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq, for further funds, but these have not been forthcoming.

Iraqi army forces, along with volunteers and tribal members, are still fighting IS and have been victorious in the Diyala and Salahadeen provinces, but the displacement tragedy continues.

Saving the Turkmen is an NGO led by young Turkmen human rights activists. The group recently published a report on displaced Turkmen families, saying that these number more than 125,000. As well, more than 500 Turkmens have been seized by IS forces, among them women and children. The NGO collected the information in interviews with families and freed Yazidi women.

Ali Bayati, chairman of the group, told the Weekly that the intention is to use the report to put pressure on Baghdad and Erbil to liberate cities and towns from IS control. “Our organisation has documented the kidnapping of 50 women, with a further number being unknown along with 70 children,” Bayati said.

He added, “The families of the kidnapped women fear shame and scandal. They are not ready to accept the idea that this is war, and in war even men are kidnapped and humiliated.”

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