Iraq: Signs of disagreement emerge between ISIS and the Baath

By: Mostafa Nasser

Published Monday, June 16, 2014

The mask has fallen. Mosul is governed by former officers of the old army and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controls the top administrative positions in the city. Three days were sufficient to uncover the conspiracy facing Iraq. ISIS began calling around the city that it came to liberate, not to conquer, and on its way to the capital Baghdad, leaving the affairs of Mosul to “its people.” It appointed a retired former Iraqi army officer, Colonel Hashem al-Jammas as governor.

Baghdad- Jammas, born in 1949, is an officer at al-Ghozlani academy in Mosul, which graduated hundreds of veteran Iraqi officers. He held several leadership positions in the disbanded former army and participated in the Iraq-Iran war and the invasion of Kuwait, becoming a pillar of the former regime.

According to several Mosul residents, three armed brigades took control of the city militarily, administratively, and socially. They are ISIS, the Revolutionaries Military Council, and the Naqshbandiyya movement.

The heavily armed ISIS, which includes Arab and foreign fighters, quickly took control of the city. It confiscated all medium and heavy arms, smuggling them towards Syria through the city of al-Sharkat in Salah ad-Din, close to Tikrit. Being the stronger side, ISIS imposed its decisions and type of administration on Mosul, applying “sharia” like it did previously in Syria. Its strongholds are in al-Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, and the belt around Baghdad.

The Military Council, based in Baghdad, al-Anbar, and Salah ad-Din, involves a large segment of former officers of the disbanded army. The majority had joined al-Qaeda in Mosul, al-Anbar, and other regions in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Later, several turned against al-Qaeda, joining the uprisings (al-Sahawat) against the organization. However, the most serious threat they imposed was in 2012, when they joined the protests in the Sunni regions. The Military Council hopes to establish a Sunni federation and several of its leaders are calling to break up Iraq into several small states.

On the other hand, al-Naqshbandiyya movement, headed by Saddam Hussein’s former deputy, Izzat al-Douri, is the weakest of the three. It promotes the principles of the disbanded Baath party, although several of its members had joined successive Iraqi governments. Failing to rally real support in Anbar, Diyala, and Salah ad-Din, it found its base in Mosul and Arab areas of Kirkuk. The group calls for the overthrow of the new regime by any means and the return to the rule of the disbanded Baath party.

The three organizations agreed that the Mosul coup was a “Sunni revolution” to legitimize the occupation of other cities by ISIS. However, they disagreed on the management of resources and wealth, as well as the type of administration in the city.

In this regard, an informed source from Mosul who refused to disclose his name, said the three organizations disagreed at the beginning. ISIS wanted control of all state property, weapons, and equipment. The Military Council refused to empty the coffers of the state, in addition to a dispute over ISIS taking control of the banks and stealing US$ 340 million.

 

ISIS also quarreled with the Naqshbandiyya movement over the posters of former President Saddam Hussein, which sprung up around the governorate after the fall of Mosul, giving them 24 hours for their removal. “A meeting was held last Tuesday between commanders of the armed groups,” he explained. “They quickly agreed on several important issues, particularly the appointment of the governor and the withdrawal of [non-Iraqi] Arab fighters, which indicates the existence of an done deal before ISIS enters the city.”

 

The unified terrorist groups in Mosul seem to have established a mechanism based on the demands of the population, to avoid clashing with them and remain in Mosul as long as possible, providing impetus for terrorist fighters based in Salah ad-Din and Diyala. However, ISIS began distributing flyers, which contradicted the deal between the armed groups. This led to speculations about an armed clash between the three groups, like what happened in several Syrian cities.

“The people of Mosul are relieved about the appointment of retired Colonel Hashem al-Jammas as governor,” an employee at Mosul municipality told Al-Akhbar in a phone call. He explained that they began providing electricity to the city 20 hours a day, up from the 2 or 3 hours provided earlier due to rampant corruption in the government. “The fighters are taking advantage of the corruption in the government and the local administration in Mosul,” he maintained.

In the meantime, ISIS distributed flyers during last Friday prayers, titled “City Charter” prohibiting civic displays and personal freedoms such as smoking and alcohol. They replaced the law with sharia and demanded the women of Mosul be “decent and refrain from going out,” as well as avoid loose or tight clothes.

Although the residents of Mosul maintained that all required services are available, there are rumors of sharia courts being held at the governorate building and UN reports point to incidents involving the killing of several civilians.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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About angelajoya

Assistant Professor, Middle East Political Economy, at the University of Oregon. Currently writing on the Egyptian revolution and the Syrian crisis.
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