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Nineveh’s Nujaifi: Iran Seeks to Provoke Arab-Kurdish Strife | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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ISIS militants celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces, at a street in the city of Mosul, June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Irbil-Former Governor of Nineveh Atheel al-Nujaifi reiterated that Iran’s nonstop determination to incorporate paramilitary militias such as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq proves its expansionist intentions.

Iran, via proxy militias, wishes to extend its influence across Iraq encompassing strategic swathes of land in Mosul, Irbil and Dahuk.

Nujaifi also warned Tehran’s attempts of inciting cultural strife among Kurds and Arabs, in its strive to revive the Kurdish–Turkish conflict in Iraq.

“Preparations for the anticipated Mosul liberation campaign are underway, and Iraqi forces deployed to the zone are sufficient to free the whole of Mosul from ISIS hold,” said Nujaifi, hinting that PMF presence is not required to free Mosul.

“Moreover, the international coalition is also present to coordinate amongst forces participating at the campaign,” he added.

The Iraqi politician explained that most forces partaking in the Mosul offensive have no clear cut plan on direct contact with ISIS militants overrunning Mosul’s inner territory. Most of the forces currently are positioned on the outskirts, implementing a gradual advance strategy.

One of the perks of plans being on hold, according to Nujaifi, is that it will give the people of Mosul the time and chance needed to do something themselves so that Mosul is freed from the inside.

“The military operation to free Mosul will launch in the upcoming fall,” added Nujaifi.

Each of the national army, Peshmerga forces, tribal fighters and international coalition forces will be partaking at the Mosul liberation campaign said Nujaifi, casting away the chances of Iran-backed PMF militias playing a role in the offensive.

The controversy on whether PMF militias should partake in the offensive remains unsettled.

Militias being positioned at the Nineveh plains requires Iraqi Kurdistan consent, which might not be given since interests might be compromised, he added.

Speaking on behalf of the people of Nineveh, a Governorate to the north and east of the city of Mosul, Nujaifi said that keeping PMF militias out of the campaign serves the governorate and the people best. He explained that the militias had had a history of getting overly involved with regional affairs post liberation.

It will not play to Mosul’s benefit, given it’s already a heated conflict zone, to add another component such as the Shi’ite militias to the area. Nujaifi warned that Mosul would be introduced to a new level of conflict after ISIS is deterred, and would be by the courtesy of militias in the zone.

Many warnings were directed against the PMF, a paramilitary armed group, on partaking in any national operations against ISIS, in fears of the group, after proving to be highly bigoted, to assault Sunni civilians.

Fears were realized in Fallujah earlier July, as international and local reports poured in on PMF militants looting, kidnapping and torturing Fallujah citizens, who were left unattended by national forces who continued to comb the territory further leaving civilians’ fate in PMF militant hands.

Scores of Fallujah residents were killed, hundreds kidnapped and mosques and homes were raided and burnt to the ground.

Nujaifi added that some Shi’ite political forces, wish to vehemently include the PMF in the campaigns as to enforce a new status quo in Iraq. He said that it comes in line with Iran’s expansionist agenda on controlling the terrain connecting Syria to Iraq.