Since the day Iraqi soldiers fled, dropping their uniforms and weapons, and the region came under ISIS control two years ago, hardly a day goes by without a news report regarding Mosul appearing in the media. The statements and preparations for recapturing the second biggest city of Iraq has continued for months and the military operation launched a few weeks ago has marked the beginning of a new period of uncertainty. So, will the Mosul Offensive, which involves the Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Shia militia groups, and is being supported by the U.S.-led coalition, actually offer a solution? Will the operation for the salvation of Mosul actually bring salvation? No, it will not. The salvation of Mosul and the whole region does not lie in new military operations; it lies in the campaigns of love, friendship and brotherhood.
First, let us take a look at the recent history of the region. For many years, Mosul and its vicinity remained under Turkish rule until it was occupied by the British at the end of World War I. At the time, the majority of its population comprised of three ethnic groups that share common religious, cultural and historical ties with Turkey: The Northern Iraqi Kurds, the Sunni Arabs and the Turkmens. The location of Mosul became a subject of heated debate in the Lausanne Conference. Turkey requested that the decision should be left to the people of Mosul, calling for a referendum. The British were aware of the fact that, in such a case, the majority, including the Kurd and the Turkmen population, would vote in favor of joining the Turkish Republic; through diplomatic coercions and maneuvers, Mosul was annexed to Iraq under the British mandate.
From that date until today, the Turkish state has pursued a policy of preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq. Turkey does not intend to annex Mosul or any other place in Northern Iraq. The Turkish authorities have repeatedly stated that they did not have such goals or intentions. Furthermore, a potential unrest and instability in Mosul will also prove disadvantageous for Turkey; it will only result in a threat to Turkey's own security. What Turkey wishes for is the establishment of peace, justice, democracy and harmony in the region as soon as possible, for the region to be a place where bloody terrorist organizations such as the PKK cannot act as they please, and the foundation of an order based upon love, brotherhood, unity and solidarity among different religious and ethnic groups without further delay.
However, the recent operation appears to be far from being capable of establishing such a system. In the operation, which began following the announcement by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Oct. 17, the Iraqi army still faces difficulties advancing in the city, having a hard time defending the areas it has captured and the urban warfare strategies employed by ISIS further complicates the situation. In the words of an Iraqi colonel who spoke to Reuters, the situation in Mosul is turning into a "nightmare." It seems that the operation may pave the way for a longer and bloodier war.
On top of that, there are 1.5 million civilians trapped in the middle of this battle, residing in the city center and its districts. If the war intensifies and spreads to the densely populated areas of Mosul, thousands of innocent people including children, women and the elderly may lose their lives, hundreds of thousands of them may become refugees and the city might be destroyed completely. Due to the utter inadequacy of the U.N. camps, hunger, thirst and diseases are among the possible dangers. So much so that the U.N. refugee agency's representative in Iraq Bruno Geddo describes the severity of the situation saying that the Battle of Mosul "has the potential to be one of the largest man-made disasters for many, many years."
Yet this is not the full extent of the danger. There is the possibility of causing a war of unprecedented scale that may engulf the entire Middle East and its leading cause is sectarianism; in other words, certain Shiite units within the Iraqi military forces, and a segment of the Shiite al-Hashed al-Sha'bi militia assisting in the offensive acting on a desire for revenge as well as acts of violence towards Sunnis taking place in Tal Afar and in other areas of Mosul. Additionally, efforts towards changing the demography of the city also pose a considerable threat for the region. Likewise, if certain Shiite militias form alliances with the communist terrorist organization PKK or its branches, and the PKK establishes a permanent presence in Mosul and its vicinity, this will lead to irreparable sufferings and catastrophes.
Therefore, it is crucial to take an amicable, diplomatic, and reconciliatory action without a moment's delay, before the problem becomes irresolvable. First and foremost, a sincere and constructive bond should be forged and strengthened between Turkey and the Baghdad government. However, the Iraqi government alone will prove incapable of solving these big problems. For that reason, before it is too late, all the regional actors directly or indirectly involved in the matter should come together and establish a new order based on the principles of brotherhood, equality and freedom.
Returning to the problems mentioned at the beginning of the article, military operation will not offer a true solution and salvation. The situation in Mosul is very delicate and complicated. All the problems can only be overcome through cooperation, solidarity, reconciliation, love and sincerity. Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria in particular — as well as all the Islamic states — should come together and cast their sectarian differences aside altogether. They should eliminate the ideological factors that drive people towards violence.
Regardless of their sects, Muslims share common values and moral principles. In short, we have ample motives not for animosity and war, but for unity and solidarity. Only through love, brotherhood, unity and solidarity among the entire Muslim community can our brothers in Mosul and the Middle East overcome the sufferings and hardships they are going through and lead the serene, stable, peaceful and prosperous lives they long for. There is absolutely no other way for salvation.
Adnan Oktar's piece in The China Post: