By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council issued an official order to the Erbil Appeals Court on April 8 to implement an arrest warrant for the former governor of Ninevah province, Nawfal al-Akoub.

conflict over the post of governor ensued in the city of Mosul, which is at the heart of Ninevah province.

The Iraqi parliament voted March 24 to dismiss Gov. Akoub from his post after a ferry accident in Mosul killed nearly 100 civilians. An arrest warrant was promptly issued for Akoub.

Click here to read the full story.

The Government of Iraq and UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) re-opened the As-Salamiyah Water Treatment Plant at a ceremony yesterday in Nimrud.

The Treatment Plant, which will provide safe drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people in the Ninewah Plains, is one of the first major stabilization projects to be completed since the Government approved 202 projects in early April.

Almost all of the plant’s equipment, including 19 water pumps, filters and retaining pools, have been replaced or rebuilt and the main electric transmission line between As-Salamiyah and Hamdaniyah has been repaired.

Khalwa, a resident of As-Salamiyah, said:

“When the treatment plant wasn’t working all of the water that came from the pipes, if it came at all, was filthy. We had to go to the river to get water, and even that was barely suitable for washing. The water is much better now. We can even drink from the taps.”

At a ceremony marking the re-opening of the water treatment plant on Sunday, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Mahdi Al-Alaq, said:

“We are doing everything we can to help liberated areas rebuild after the destruction caused by terrorist Daesh. Providing basic services, such as clean water, is key to ensuring that displaced Iraqis can return home with dignity.”

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

“The Funding Facility for Stabilization is implementing more than 300 projects in eastern Mosul and liberated cities and districts in the Ninewah Plains. We’re working as quickly as possible to re-establish water and sewage systems and electrical grids. Thousands of people, many from destitute families, are working on public schemes, earning income while they help to rebuild their communities.

“A lot needs to be done and we have promised the government and the people of Mosul that we will do everything possible to speed-up stabilization.”

Established in June 2015, FFS is working in newly liberated areas in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Ninewah and Diyala Governorates. More than 800 projects are completed or being implemented across 22 locations. Since the start of the crisis, over 1.7 million people have returned to their homes.

(Source: UNDP in Iraq)

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraqi Turkmens, who are citizens of Iraq with Turkish origins, have been calling for their own independent province in the Tal Afar district west of Mosul, located in the center of the Ninevah province.

The Turkmens’ demands coincide with calls for the establishment of other new provinces in Ninevah, such as the Ninevah Plain province for Christians and Sinjar province for the Yazidis.

All of these projects are based on religious or ethnic division, whether among Turkmens, Kurds, Arabs, Sunnis or Shiites. Some see these proposals as the solution to the sectarian, religious and ethnic diversity problems that have caused so much killing and displacement of minorities since the Islamic State (IS) took over the areas in June 2014.

But others fear the proposals would further divide the country into regional fiefdoms, fending off peace and causing new conflicts for power and influence.

Turkmens are a mix of Sunnis and Shiites and are the third-largest ethnicity in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, numbering about 3 million out of the total population of about 34.7 million, according to 2013 data from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning. Turkmens have escalated their demands as the battle to retake Mosul from IS approaches.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Oct. 2, “After liberating Mosul from [IS], only Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and Sunni Kurds should stay there.” His remarks drew wide divisions between the Turkmens regarding their areas in Iraq. The Turkmen Rescue Foundation on Oct. 4 denounced Erdogan’s statements, demanding that he respect the ethnic and sectarian diversity in Iraq, since Mosul is home to a variety of social components, not only the ones he mentioned.

By Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Almost four months into the launch of the Ninevah Liberation Operation, Iraqi forces managed to secure a major gain July 9 by capturing the strategic Qayyarah air base in the southern countryside of Ninevah province. The victory is expected to invigorate the Iraqi offensive in this key northern province, the location of Mosul, the largest city controlled by the Islamic State (IS).

The Ninevah offensive, which began in late March, has been largely characterized by slow progress and has at times appeared stalled, such as when the Iraqi forces struggled to capture al-Nasr, a village near Makhmur, during the first couple of months of the operation. The victory in Qayyarah will bring strategic benefit to the several layers of the Iraqi security forces and their local Sunni tribal allies by helping facilitate the delivery of military and logistical supplies via the air base.

“It is an important, strategic air base, and we will use it in the future as a major base for operations in the area,” Gen. Firas Bashar, the head of media relations at the Ninevah Operations Command, told Al-Monitor. “This was also a major base used by IS for recruiting and training purposes and a launch site for operations.”

By controlling the air base and the surrounding area, the Iraqis are now also in control of the road linking Mosul to the IS-held territories of Shirqat and Hawija, in Salahuddin and Kirkuk provinces, respectively. The Qayyarah facility, previously called Saddam Air Base, was captured by Iraqi forces led by the elite counterterrorism and army units approaching from the direction of Salahuddin province, to the south, Bashar said.

Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy specializing in Iraqi military and security affairs, told Al-Monitor that Qayyarah will give the US-led coalition a base that “can easily be fortified and developed to hold US artillery and most importantly helicopters.”

By Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Gen. Hadi Halabjayi and his peshmerga troops were getting settled in the new territory in the Khazir area they had captured from the Islamic State (IS) in late May after a day and a half of fighting.

Sitting under a cloth shade hung between two vehicles, Halabjayi held a piece of shrapnel from a mortar that had landed just minutes before.

“It’s a big territory we have taken and we are quite close to Mosul now from this side as well,” Halabjayi told Al-Monitor, as he pointed toward a nearby village.

A few minutes later, he got up with the help of a wooden stick and surveyed the hot, dusty plains of eastern Ninevah province. Occasionally, he shouted an order at the people around him.

“These territories are Kurdistan’s now. We will not give them back to the Iraqi army or anybody else,” said the general. “We have had four of our peshmergas die here and several injured for this territory. [IS] exploded eight suicide bombers in this area,” he said.

Halabjayi’s words sum up the sentiments among the peshmerga and Kurdish officials these days: The blood they are shedding should not go in vain.

In a two-day operation over May 29-30, 5,500 Kurdish peshmerga forces wrested control of nine villages from IS encompassing an area of around 120 square kilometers (46 square miles).

Kurdish authorities described the offensive as “one of the many shaping operations” to increase pressure on IS militants in nearby Mosul leading up to an eventual charge on the major IS stronghold.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

To Be Independent Or Not: Iraqi’s Northern Province After The Islamic State?

As local forces appear to be preparing to take on Sunni Muslim extremists in charge of their hometowns, discussion has already started about what happens next. In the northern province of Ninawa, the governor is putting his faith in a new military force while others argue about how independent Ninawa can ever be from Baghdad.

There are very few Iraqis who still believe that Iraq should be ruled by a central government. There are also very few Iraqis who are still optimistic about the amendments Iraq’s new government, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, is trying to introduce to correct the mistakes made by the former regime.

Those who still feel optimistic about the survival of Iraq in its current incarnation tend to be expatriates living outside of Iraq. Their opinions are reflected by journalists and intellectuals but they are often accused of idealism, naiveté or of being deluded.

Should the Sunni Muslim extremists from the Islamic State, or IS, group who are currently controlling the area be pushed out, the majority of people living in the northern province of Ninawa – whether they be Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians or Yazidi – would prefer to see a new kind of administration. The very least they want is administrative decentralisation which would allow for reconstruction, better employment opportunities for locals and most importantly, better security.

“We have passed the phase of formulating ideas and we are now at the stage where we must take serious, practical steps to reformulate Iraq’s internal framework,” the governor of Ninawa, Osama al-Nujaifi, told NIQASH.

Al-Nujaifi believes the only way to get rid of the Islamic State from inside Ninawa is through state-sanctioned military action – and not, he adds, through a method used previously, the Sahwa or Awakening movement. This was a home-grown initiative to get Al Qaeda out of Iraq funded by the US. Al-Nujaifi confirmed his support for the idea of a new National Guard that brings all those who want to fight the IS group together under one leadership. Then he wants to see them integrated into the National Guard, once Ninawa is liberated, he says.