Independent Ninawa After the Islamic State?

“We need to attract those who truly wish to resist the IS group within a regular and legitimate system,” al-Nujaifi says. “The same system will be used to maintain security once the IS group have been expelled. At the same time we recognise the difference between our conflict with the IS group and other social, sectarian or political conflicts. The IS group has used these to their own advantage, in the absence of the Iraqi state. We need to deal with those social, sectarian or political conflicts wisely, in order to end this vicious cycle of revenge and retaliation.”

Al-Nujaifi also has a long term goal – to make Ninawa a semi-autonomous region, in the same way that Iraqi Kurdistan is independent. Iraqi Kurdistan has its own government, military and legislation, although it is still part of Iraq proper.

There were a lot of people in Ninawa who didn’t agree with al-Nujaifi before. But now that the IS group has taken hold of the area, they are starting to come round. Many are now saying that the best way forward for Ninawa, after the IS group has gone, would be the creation of an independent region.

For them, forming their own military is the first step towards this. They believe it would ensure the safety and security of the province’s estimated 4 million people, many of whom are estimated to be internal refugees right now.

“Even before the IS group invaded Ninawa, the province was divided and was suffering from political conflicts,” says Abdul-Karim al-Rashidi, a local researcher, who believes that the province’s recovery from the IS group takeover will take a long time. “And those are not going to end just because the IS group’s control ends,” he argues.

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