By Iran Probe staff
Saturday, 29 April 2017
Iran is taking advantage of the absence of independent media outlets in Mosul, silently changing the city’s religious and ethnic fabric, Kurdish sources say.
Orient TV cited Kurdish sources saying parties and militia groups close to Iran have begun changing the religious and ethnic fabric of Mosul, taking advantage of the absence of independent media outlets to pursue its objectives.
In Mosul and its outskirts 34 pro-Iran religious parties and militias have been established, all involved in “sectarian crimes in liberated areas across Mosul Province,” according to Mohamed Shawani from the Kurdish Democratic Party.
“These parties and militias are involved in measures that clearly representing a religious and ethnic changes. For example, Sunni and Christians are pressure to sell their homes, property and real estate. Many such cases registered indicating a significant number of families have been forced to flee the liberated areas in fear of being targeted and due to enormous pressures,” he added.
“The Popular Mobilization Force, or Hashid al-Sha’bi, is committing crimes against civilians as its units are seen launching checkpoints and pressuring residents, arresting anyone they wish…” said Qiyath al-Surji, a senior Pishmarge commander.
Turkey, Sunnis issue warning
Turkey issued a warning in the final days of 2016, saying “Iran’s militias do not have the right to change the population fabric of Mosul.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım referred to Iran’s militias in this regard.
“The activities of Shiite militias, who intend to change the population fabric of these areas through launching massacres in the cities of Mosul and Talafar, must be stopped. This is our red line. Mosul must remain for all its residents and the population fabric of Talafar must not be altered,” he said.
Sunnis have also raised concerns over the presence of Iran’s militias in the fight for Mosul, especially Iraj Masjedi, Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani’s deputy, who has officially launched his work as Iran’s ambassador in Iraq.
“Following the events of Iraq and the end of the war against ISIS, Iran will be attempting to increase its presence in Iraq. This regime’s security, economic and political dominance in this country is quite obvious. Especially since Masjedi, Suleimani’s first deputy in Iraqi affairs, is now in charge of the Iraq dossier. He has relations with the Katayeb Hezbollah and Hashid al-Sha’bi militias, all linked to Iran’s security, military and intelligence officials. All these militia elements enjoy direct links with him and he can have the last word with them,” said Ayad al-Anaz, an Amman-based expert in Iraqi affairs.
While there were expectations of Mosul residents returning following the ouster of ISIS, scenes on the ground indicate locals are continuing to migrate from these areas. Two weeks ago Iraqi Migration Minister Jasem al-Jaf issued a statement saying the number of refugees fleeing western Mosul had surpassed the 400,000 mark.
Although this statement says 130,000 refugees who left the city during military operations have now returned to their homes, this report has not been verified by an independent source. In fact, concerns amongst various sources are high (Turks, Kurds and Iraqi Sunnis) continue over the changing of population fabrics in Mosul and other areas liberated from ISIS.