For many Iranian Kurds, passing over the mountains into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region means crossing into an uncertain future. Poverty, neglect and a shaky legal status weigh heavily. Although some have been in Iraq for decades, reticence from some lawmakers in Baghdad means there is little chance of them obtaining Iraqi citizenship and some measure of security.
The Islamic State may have been defeated in the field, but they have not been defeated in Iraq. What actually happened was that their fighters retreated from Mosul and Hawija, before slowly melting back into the Sunni Arab villages — and storing their weapons in the nearby caves — and prepared for war once again. What lies across from me are the most fanatical and hardcore: Those who have hung on, who refuse to surrender or flee. And they will stay there until they win or die.
Just as in the rest of Iraq and the wider region, the Kurdish model has failed to resolve deep social, political and economic issues by mere nationalistic thinking and slogans. The ongoing mass Kurdish exodus to Europe through Belarus is a clear example of this failure.
The tribal leaders of Haditha saw the writing on the wall: An attack by the Islamic State was imminent. But unlike other cities, Haditha would not capitulate, the leaders decided. They would instead fight, come what may.
Why do Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State, Iran-backed Shiite militants, and Kurdish militants of PKK and allied groups still find in the Iraq-Syria border a space to operate and consolidate their positions vis-à-vis their rivals? The answer lies in the disintegration of the apparatuses of the central state.
Since Iraq’s protest movement exploded two years ago, it has been plagued by a tragic and unbroken string of hundreds of murders. Few have been solved. But activists have repeatedly pointed the finger at corrupt police and shadowy militia groups.
After the war, we expected something like a Marshall Plan to revive Mosul. But instead, we found ourselves dependent on the international community and IMF loans to restore our war-torn city. With our government’s problems and the collapsing currency, I don’t know what Mosul will look like in five years.