Mosul Eye: Shia Popular Mobilization Units control Mosul and Environs financially and politically

"Keep the Christians out of it. You seized their lands in the Nineveh Plains"

Mosul Eye blogger Omar Mohammed wandered the streets of ISIS-occupied Mosul to inform the world of the cruelties of the terrorist organization and about life under the Caliphate. He was in disguise and worked in secret. He risked his life because at night he sent out his experiences, feelings, images and the testimonies he gathered that day, out into the wide world via tweets as the “Mosul Eye”.

Without knowing who was behind the blog, international media soon picked up the blog on life under ISIS. Mosul Eye became an important source of information for the outside world about ISIS, its fighters and their atrocities.

It was in June 2014 that the second largest city in Iraq was taken by ISIS. It established its Caliphate and imposed strict Islamic rule on the mixed population of metropolitan Mosul. Metropolitan Mosul was majority Sunni-Arab but had many ethnic minorities as Yazidis, Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians, Turkmens, Armenians, Shabaks, Kurds and others. Pre-ISIS Mosul had an estimated two hundred thousand Christians. In the Mosul environs Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians live in the towns and villages on the Nineveh Plain. The Sinjar region is majority Yazidi.

Sinjar: the home of Yazidis, Muslims, and Christians. Sinjar is still in ruins, and its people are still suffering. After all the unimaginable crimes ISIS committed against Sinjar and its people, the city is still in ruins! Image: Mosul Eye

Omar Mohammed witnessed decapitations and stonings. Saw how Mosul’s mosaic, “infidel” heritage and historical landmark buildings were destroyed. He reported on the persecution of religious minorities, executions, kidnappings and expulsion of Yazidi’s, Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians and other minorities. And he reported on how Yazidi women were sold, raped, forced to abort or sterilize and, on how underaged Yazidi girls died from their injuries after repeated rapes.

In July 2014, the Mosul Eye writes;

“Humanitarian crisis: Christians expulsed from Mosul: With regards to Christians, ISIS distributed a document… a number of Christian Archbishoprics refused to attend a meeting with Mosul’s wali/alderman to discuss matters of Al-Jiziya (as it’s the best option for Christians. They were given 3 options: to become Muslims, pay Al-Jiziya, or be killed). As a result of this, the wali issued an order to get all Christians outside the city without any of their properties or belongings, not even a “watch”. It says that they have until 12pm on Saturday (19th July) to leave Mosul, otherwise they will be killed. After many of the Christians left, the borders’ checkpoints “looted” all of their belongings including mobile phones and money.

I was informed now that two Christians were killed in Mosul by ISIS in front of their families and their money was looted.

One of my Christian friends: they took everything away from us, all that we have, even our mobile phones and even our children clothes. They didn’t allow us to ride cars but ordered us to walk barefooted to outside Nineveh’s borders.”

“A stable and thriving Mosul is critical to preventing ISIS’ re-emergence in the region”

Image: GW Today

Omar Mohammed is cautious but doesn’t have to hide or conceal his identity anymore after he fled Mosul and Iraq more than 3 years ago. He is a 31-year-old historian.

Through his Mosul Eye blog, he keeps warning the world of the lasting threat of the ISIS ideology and the risk of ISIS reemerging in Mosul and environs.

In a recent interview with GW Today, Mohammed says that,

“A stable and thriving Mosul is critical to preventing ISIS’ re-emergence in the region, and the Iraqi government must do more to stabilize and rebuild the city following its nearly three-year occupation by the terrorist organization and a devasting nine-month offensive to recapture it from the group. It is important to have a strong Mosul,” he said. “If we can’t find a normal life in Mosul again, ISIS will always find space to re-emerge.”

The biggest gift to (the re-emergence of) ISIS is an Iraqi government which keeps inactive, corrupt, and keeps pursuing own interests or remains a proxy of foreign or regional powers. Mohammed is very critical of how the Iraqi government – who he says holds the main responsibility – handles the so-needed reconstruction of Mosul. In a Mosul Eye Tweet of 25 January 2020:

“Millions in international donations were ”supposedly” spent in Mosul. Funds that could have built a whole new city, but after three years of this kind of assistance, we can’t see real results. Where did the money go? Does anyone know?”

Moreover, he blames the Iraqi government and the Coalition for over-damaging Mosul in its liberation from ISIS “undertaking the liberation effort due to political pressures rather than sound military strategy”. And “The international coalition should “rebuild what they destroyed.”

Another point to note from the GW Today interview, is Omar Mohammed’s warning of the growing political and economic influence of Iran-backed and well-armed Shia militias (Hashed al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units). Together with the Iraqi army and the international Coalition against ISIS, these Shia Popular Mobilization Units fought and defeated ISIS but,

“in a silent way, [Mosul] is becoming completely under the control, financially and politically, [of] the militias.” The only way to get rid of ISIS and the militias is to build a real democracy [and] to help the people restore their lives.”

He advocates a continued American presence in (northern) Iraq. ISIS only emerged after American troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011. “Any withdrawal of American troops from Mosul in this time will not only see the re-emergence of ISIS… but will lead to a most extreme version of ISIS,” he predicted.

“You can’t see the presence of American troops in Mosul, but they are keeping the balance there.”

Map of all districts in the Nineveh Province. Plus a map of the Nineveh Plain (Sekhan, Tel Kef and Hamdaniya are the districts which together constitute the Nineveh Plain).