“If the situation in Mosul doesn’t change there will be another group with a different name and different people who may be embroiled in a new wave of violence”
(By Nino Orto) When you want to know the anger of the citizens of Mosul towards the central government after the eviction of Islamic State fighters from most of the city you have just to talk with Saddam Hussein. Of course, not the dictator, but a local teacher who is still proudly showing off an identity card with the name his parents have named him forty five years ago in honor of the strongman of Iraq.“My name is Saddam and all three of my sons are named Saddam because I love him, Saddam was the best commander in Iraq” he said.
According to a press report and general feelings in West Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in 2003 by a international coalition led by United States, is considered a person hated by the Shiites and Kurds for what they have suffered from. But in Mosul, where most of the Sunni population feel that authorities in Baghdad does not respect them, is still loved. When the jihadist group of Islamic State took over Mosul three years ago, supporters of the former president were among the first to welcome a militant group, before most of the population turned against extremists because of their harsh rule.
But Saddam said he did not support this thesis . He said that on the one hand is undoubtely true that he lost his salary because of the jihadist organization when Baghdad stopped sending money to pay government employees in areas controlled by Islamic State. But on the other hand, like many in Mosul, he believe that is undergoing a lengthy discrimination process by the central government to the Sunni provinces of the country, which is considered unfair.
When the fighting reached his home he fled with his family to a UN camp. Then he returned to his old home to found that he was evicted. He cannot pay the rent because he is not paid from the government and, as many others in the city, his family soon became homeless. “I lost everything, I cannot feed my family and pay the rent anymore, but I do not want to go with my family to the camp again” he said.
The battle for the liberation of Mosul from Islamic State is in its seventh month and has became the biggest ground battle in Iraq since 2003. Many areas of the city have been under full government control since late last year but there is no water or electricity yet. Authorities have put up new paintings with photographs of the city’s historic landmarks or the Tigris River with a message urging citizens to return to normal life. However beneath it there are also Shiite religious slogans that government forces painted. A situation that some Sunni residents say it makes them feel under occupation.
“Politics has been dominated by sectarian and political groups” said Wael Faisal, an electronic hardware vendor from the city, referring to slogans on the walls. “Baghdad has not implemented any development projects in Mosul since 2003, that’s the true” he added.
With the persistence of this situation and the absence of a salary for hundreds of citiziens families are now forced to beg for food in mosques. More than 100 former workers gathered in eastern Mosul on Wednesday and complained they had not been paid for up to six months. “We do not have water and electricity, this is the political corruption that we are suffering from” Faisal said.
Many now say the situation will create fertile ground for the emergence of another militant group in Mosul, which has become a center of Sunni resistance after the fall of Saddam Hussein.”I think the future will be worse because the central government will not care about Mosul again” said Fernas Taleb, the owner of a shop selling light bulbs in eastern Mosul. “If this doesn’t change, there will be another group with a different name and with different people who may be embroiled in a new wave of violence” he added.
An aide in the governor of Nineveh, based in Mosul, said the authorities were operating non-stop.
“We have restored electricity in some areas for a few hours and will gradually improve, we are also recovering water, but some parts of the system have been destroyed.We work day and night to serve the citizens, but our potential is limited because the support we get from Baghdad is very limited, we need more support” he stated.