There were continued clearing and rebuilding operations in Mosul. First, the Iraqi forces (ISF) arrested 12 Islamic State members attempting to escape across the Tigris River from east to west Mosul. They were picked up in three different neighborhoods. Second, the Federal Police announced they were done with 40% of their sweep through the Old City. Three weeks after the city was declared liberated IS elements continue to be killed and arrested, and explosives defused. This is a major reason why so few displaced are returning to the city; they don’t think it is safe yet. Third, a man was freed after being kidnapped for ransom. He was taken in the northeast and found by the army’s 16th Division. There have been sporadic reports of crime taking place in Mosul since the east was freed at the start of 2017. Unfortunately, the lack of jobs and money is likely a driving force. Fourth, 14 bodies were discovered in the Old City of West Mosul. Civil Defense units believe there are hundreds of people still buried in the west, and they have weeks more work to do to find them. Finally, engineers are working on building a new pontoon bridge across the Tigris to link east and west Mosul. The city used to have five bridges across the span but those were all destroyed by the U.S. Coalition. Now these is just one bridge, which severely restricts the movement of people and supplies between the two halves. The World Bank has also fast tracked programs to rebuild the five original bridges.
The head of the Ninewa Operations Command told Reuters that he believed the battle for Tal Afar will be a quick one. He estimated that there were only 1,500-2,000 IS fighters in the district along with their families. He claimed they were a broken force, and there would not be any heavy fighting. Many members fled already leaving mostly foreign fighters behind. Similar statements were made about Mosul. For example, at the start of 2017 the ISF claimed that west Mosul would be easy because most of the insurgents had escaped, and the ones remaining suffered low morale. The west turned out to be the toughest fighting of the entire war. While IS is losing, they are not giving up. In fact, their continued resistance against the odds is being used in their propaganda to show the group’s resilience. The Iraqi narrative on the other hand is that IS is barely hanging on, and few of them are left. Of course, when the battle is over the number of militants will go dramatically up in the usual death inflation to make the victory look even more impressive.
There are still displaced (IDPs) moving back and forth in Ninewa. There are a total of 837,450 IDPs in Ninewa. From July 26-28, 226 families arrived in camps, roughly 1,300 people. That was the same amount the week before. Most came from Tal Afar, which is coming under increasing air strikes. Others were from west Mosul who fled to the east, but then left due to a lack of services, insecurity, or their homes were destroyed. During that same period, 492 families, approximately 2,900 IPDs, left camps. Not all of them went to their homes however. Some entered secondary displacement by opting to live with sponsor families rather than stay in the camps. There have been increasing complaints that the summer heat is making them unbearable, and leading people leave. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi is trying to set up a timetable for when all the IDPs will return in Ninewa. The Displacement Ministry has said it would like to see most families back in their homes by the end of the year. So far, however the rates going back to Mosul have been pretty low. Much of west Mosul is leveled, and people still fear for their safety with all the reports of IS activity. Once there is better security, many more are likely to go back despite the harsh conditions.
Kuwait talked with Premier Abadi about hosting a conference of donor countries and the World Bank to garner aid for the rebuilding of Ninewa and Iraq in general. The Emir of Kuwait called Abadi in July telling him that his nation was still willing to sponsor the conference. No date was set, but the two are hoping it could happen by the start of 2018. Kuwait is one of the few regional countries that has consistently provided humanitarian aid to Iraq during the war against the Islamic State, and has given extensively to Ninewa. This conference is one of two Iraq plans to try to garner the majority of the millions of dollars it needs for reconstruction since it lacks the money itself due to low oil prices.
Finally, there was more news that the Ninewa council is planning to move against the Governor Noufal al-Akub. In July, he was removed from the ruling coalition in the provincial government. That was followed by reports that Akub would be questioned over corruption charges so that he could be dismissed. Former Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi and ex-Governor Atheel Nujafi have both been mentioned as possible replacements. Ninewa follows in the footsteps of Salahaddin and Anbar that faced political dissension after being liberated. That has held up the rebuilding process as factions have plotted against each other for control rather than focus on governing.
Alabbasi, Mamoon, “Mosul yet to begin a long process of recovery,” Arab Weekly, 7/31/17
Baghdad Post, “Former defense minister tapped for Nineveh governorship,” 7/19/17
- “Nineveh governor to be dismissed over graft,” 7/28/17
- “Nineveh operations commander: Forces set up new floating bridge in Mosul,” 7/31/17
Coles, Isabel, “Iraqi general sees easy victory over exhausted IS fighters in Tal Afar,” Reuters, 7/31/17
Al Ghad Press, “Installing a floating bridge to connect the left and right coasts of Mosul,” 7/31/17
International Medical Corps, “The Battle May Be Over, but Immense Needs Remain in Mosul,” 7/18/17
Iraq News Network, “Source: Political moves to oust the governor of Ninewa,” 7/31/17
Al Maalomah, “14 bodies were recovered in the center of the old city of Mosul,” 7/31/17
- “The federal police announced completion of 40 percent of the old Mosul cleanup,” 7/31/17
Al Mada, “Popular Crowd: We killed more than 300 Daash in 47 attacks on the border during the last 45 days,” 8/1/17
Al Masalah, “Kuwait: Ready to host conference on reconstruction of liberated areas of Iraq,” 7/31/17
New Sabah, “National Security Council directed to set a timetable for the return of the displaced,” 7/31/17
NINA, “Security Forces Arrest 12 Terrorists Infiltrated From The Right Side Of Mosul To The Left,” 7/30/17
Sotaliraq, “Freed kidnapped and captured his abductors in passion of ransom in the city of Mosul,” 7/31/17
- “Member of the Ninewa Council: Akub faction of the National Renaissance Coalition,” 7/14/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 30 July 2017,” 7/30/17