I apologize for not updating you for over 6 weeks, due to technical and other security situations I have been through, I couldn’t. I am all in one piece still. Back to informing you. To start with, I wrote an essay to explain some important background of Mosul.
Why doesn’t Mosul fight back?
Socially: What does society in Mosul consist of?
The social fabric of Mosul consists of mostly tribal congregations which were able to gain immense power since the beginning of operation Iraqi Freedom 2003. The tribal influence in the city had been present since the Baathist regime prior to the war following Saddam’s strategy of “ruralizing” the urban areas of Mosul and “militarizing” the tribal communities. US forces attempted to restore balance in society by choosing Ghanim Al-Basso, brother of Salim Al-Basso; the Iraqi pilot executed by Saddam for treason/coup. Al-Basso represented the urban, civic community of Mosul with no ties whatsoever to any tribes, however, he was unable to adopt drastic measures thus failed to project any changes. Mosul remained turbulent and several armed groups surfaced. Some groups were minor while others were major. The tribal congregations served as an incubus for under-the-cover Salafist/Jihadi movements which had been preparing to take action before April 9th, 2003. Armed movements were influenced by villagers and rural migrates, the high commanders and leaders of the groups were mostly inhabitants of the village. Once again, the urban part of Mosul was being controlled by the rural; a pattern that would continue until the city fell to ISIS.
The rural bloc had its hands locked firmly on all aspects in Mosul including the armed forces and the social, administrative, and political systems.
The city remained vulnerable and the “white chicken” generation emerged (a local idiom in Mosul used to described the stagnated youth of Mosul who choose not to confront nor combat the wrongs of society). As for the civic society of Mosul, it failed to counter the negatives of these setbacks given the methods of absolute violence adopted by the villagers: objection meant death.
Tribal leadership became a norm in the city; a pattern installed and applied by the tribes themselves. Mosul had become nearly ruralized completely.
Shock and Awe of ISIS: Brutal brisk murder
Imposing royalities: A type of “tax” ISIS imposed on the city partially in the beginning and gradually becoming a staple. Those refusing to pay were murdered with no prior warning. The money would be eventually taken from the victim’s family and a threat to kill another family member would be issued.
A true story: A merchant was informed he was to pay $100K within a 48 hour period which ended without the demands being met. An explosive device was planted in a car carrying the merchant’s son – on his wedding day – killing him immediately with the bride. He was then told his second would be killed unless the money was doubled. Fearing another loss, the man gave in.
The royalties were collected individually over the years and several civilians had been killed for refusing to pay. Mid- 2013 ISIS issued a law stating every merchant was to pay 10% of his capital and 10% of his monthly profit.
After ISIS guaranteed the constant flowing of income, police forces and federal security personals and army members began adopting similar methods of extortion. Security units imposed royalties on shops and services under the concept of equity; why pay to ISIS and not us- the army, police, etc?
False accusations against citizens, which meant more money, were being charged constantly by security forces. The victims’ families were forced to pay up to save their loved ones from the oppression.
So, where do people turn to? To the army that extorts them? To ISIS that kills them? These events created a psychological conflict in the civilians whom found themselves caught between Hitler and Mussolini.
Another True Story: During the end of 2013 ISIS managed to break the government Tax Bureau of Ninevah and issued a law those committed civilians to pay taxes directly to ISIS. Governor Atheel Al-Nujaifi intervened and was able to end their seizure of the Bureau by offering a significant amount of money.
Who was responsible for all this? Majority of the perpetrators were the Telafer residents who migrated to the Mosul and became the core of all ISIS operations in the city. Mosul entered a maze of fear, terrorism, brutality, and disability because there was no one to turn to; no one to complain to.
Telafar Emigrants and Their Role:
Those who know Mosul well know what “Telafer emigrants” mean as well as the derogatory term “Aafari”. To non-Mosul residents further explanation is required.
Telafer is a rural district in Ninevah that lies 70k west of Mosul. Its demography is a Turkmen majority both Sunni and Shia. Three sub districts are integrated with Telafer: Rabi’a, Zummar, and Al-Iyadthiya. The district and its subs are ruled by a Turkmen tribal order similar to its Arab counterpart.
Several conflicts broke out between the Sunni and Shia residents of Telafer which called for national and international intervention. The post-2003 era witnessed Telafer morphing into a major Al-Qaeda and radical incubus. (In addition to Turkem, Telafer has Arab, Kurdish and Arab/Kurd Jarjari residents)
The relationship between Telafer and other nationalities differs. For instance, there has been a long struggle between Kurds and Aafaris which drove the latter to form a coalition with Arabs against Kurds in the region. The conflict with the Kurds and Yezidis mostly revolved around the Rabi’a sub district and its agricultural lands and assets. This issue had been a source of struggle between Arab, Turkmen, Kurds, and Yezidis of west Iraq for quite some time.
Mosul and the “Aafaris”:
Residents of central Mosul often looked down on the Aafris, considering them a “lower class” and a “lower nationality” in comparison with other ethnic groups. The stereotypes surrounding the Aafaris in Mosul are well known and often a topic of derogatory punch lines. They are described as “dumbfound”, “barbarians only suitable for labor jobs”. This sentiment developed widely during the Baathist era partially because Aafaris had no actual representation in the government. They particular excelled in tough labor: agriculture and construction jobs, which would further impose the negative and degrading accusations. These wrongful stereotypes created very intense and serious loathing between the residents of Mosul city and Aafaris. I do not want to mention the insulting joke uttered by Saddam about them, but I cannot emphasize enough on the massive isolation installed between Aaferis and other ethnic groups.
Why detail all this?
In order to understand why this group was driven toward armed radicals we must understand the motives: Between “avenging” themselves from Mosul’s arrogance and attempting to “climb the social scale” of the city that rejects them. The nature of their physical built and mindset tends to be rough, fearless, and combatant thus they carried out countless deadly attacks on Iraqi soldiers inside their barracks (videos can be found on youtube). Car bombs, IEDs planted on inner roads in Mosul, and assassinations against any anti-ISIS citizen (or royalty objections) were carried out relentlessly.
In recent years Aaferis began migrating to Mosul, purchasing property and businesses in a very visible manner. They bought several shops in old Mosul and the traditional bazars of Sarai and Sarjkhana. They often offered ridiculous money, much more than what the property was worth, in order to guarantee the purchase. They also managed to infiltrate the upscale neighborhoods of the city; threatening those who refuse to sell to them.
In Mosul, “terrorism” is tied to “Aafari”. When spotting an Aafari wondering on a certain street, be sure that an assassination, car bomb, IED, or kidnap will take place. The fear and terror they implanted in the city made them the talk of the town for years. Following the fall of Mosul to ISIS, their appearance became public, proud, and defying. They neither show nor know any mercy now that they are at their might, carrying out their plans of revenge: looting homes and killing those they loathe personally.