Rapid advance of insurgents reflects Sunni opposition Maliki government.
The situation in Mosul is one of "apparent calm." The people have fled mainly because they fear the reaction of the army that could cause carnage among civilians. And the rapid advance of the insurgents reflects the support they enjoy among large sectors of Iraqi Sunnis opposed to the government of Baghdad.
In a report by Chaldean priest Paolo Thabit Mekko, who fled from Mosul and is currently a refugee in Kramles, in the Nineveh Plain, after the stampede of the army and the police, there have not been attacks and gunfights in Iraq’s second-largest city. Services and the distribution of fuel are guaranteed. The remaining population has been invited to return to work.
"It appears that among the groups of armed men, who on Monday evening took control of Mosul, the malority are Iraqis from Mosul or the surrounding areas," Father Thabit said. "They are not all to be labeled as foreign ‘terrorists’. Some of them harangue the crowd in the street, say they want to ensure law and order, protect the population and fight against the injustice of the government in Baghdad. With their speeches, they especially want to express hostility against the government of [Nouri] al-Maliki. There is also a rumor that they have appointed a governor."
Another significant factor is the role carried out by the Kurdish Peshmerga militias, which are gaining positions of power even in areas adjacent to Iraqi Kurdistan.
"Currently, in our area, we are ‘protected’ by Kurdish soldiers who have come from Erbil," Father Thabit said. The Kurdish Peshmerga control checkpoints on the road from Mosul to Erbil and have also intervened to protect the city of Kirkuk, where there is a strong Kurdish component in the population. "But up until now, there have not been clashes between Kurds and Sunni militiamen. The latter are heading south; they want to capture Baghdad, and the impression is that they do not want to enter in conflict with the Kurds in the regions of the north."
As of yesterday, for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdish flag was hoisted on institutional and police buildings in the city of Alqosh.
"What is worrying," adds Father Thabit, "are the things that we hear on TV, where there are those who say that we must arm the entire population and send them to fight against terrorists. Now, any wrong choice is likely to cause a bloodbath."