(By Nino Orto) After Islamic State’s defeat from Mosul to really understand the resentment of the city towards the central government you have just to talk with Saddam Hussein. Of course, not the dictator, but a local teacher who is still proudly show off his identity card with the name his parents have named him forty five years ago: “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.
The ex-rais, according to his detractors, was hated by either Shiites, Kurds and Sunni for what they suffered during the decades he was in power. But in Mosul, where most of the Sunni population feel that authorities in Baghdad does not respect them, his legacy is live more than ever. Indeed, when Islamic State took over the city three years ago, Saddam’s supporters were the first to welcome the militant group for quick abandon them once they had figured out the harsh rules applied by the ultra-religious group
“Our” Saddam did not support this thesis . He says it is undoubtedly true that many lost their salaries because of the jihadist organization, as Baghdad stopped the flows of money to the areas controlled by Islamic State. 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 widely considered unfair.
When the fighting reached Hussein’s 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 took more than one year to be accomplished and became the biggest ground battle in Iraq since 2003. The entire city have been under full government control since July 2017 however, there is still no water or electricity in extensive parts of the city. 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 as well many Shiite religious slogans from government forces. 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 says 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.