Ninawa Governor Al-Nujaifi: ‘Iraqi Govt Promised Us Shiite Militias Won’t Fight in Mosul’
The governor-in-exile of Ninawa, Atheel al-Nujaifi, outlines his ideas for how best to liberate Ninawa’s capital, Mosul, from extremist rule; he says he’s been assured by Baghdad that the campaign won’t include controversial Shiite militias.
After the fall of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to extremists from the group known as the Islamic State, or IS, there were many accusations as to who was to blame for the city’s fall. Some fingers were also pointed at Atheel al-Nujaifi, the province’s governor, now working in exile in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Al-Nujaifi spoke with NIQASH about whether, deep down, he feels responsible for the current situation. Al-Nujaifi also talked about what the future holds for his province and how he thinks any upcoming campaign to free Mosul from the extremists should proceed.
NIQASH: In your statements, you constantly insist that the liberation of Mosul must be done by Arabs, and more specifically, by the people of Ninawa themselves.
Atheel al-Nujaifi: The people of Ninawa themselves are a far more suitable force, and far more motivated, for this fight – especially if you compare them with any of the Shiite militias. And that’s despite their lack of weapons.
That’s why we’ve been pushing for a force made up of locals from Ninawa to be armed, and quickly. This kind of local militia will be very important if Mosul is to be freed. If such a force doesn’t exist it will be a very different kind of fight, one which may see the liberators enter into confrontations with the liberated.
NIQASH: There is a lot of talk though, about how the people of Ninawa won’t fight under your leadership. They say that it’s your fault that the IS group is in control of Mosul now. There are even some MPS who’ve been saying this.
Al-Nujaifi: I think that is a hang up from the past. The MPS saying those things are from the era of Nouri al-Maliki. They say there’s no need for a local force to liberate Mosul and they say they prefer to rely on a military force from outside the province.