Start of the liberation of Mosul Iraq

19.10.2016 - Article

The advance by Iraqi security forces on Mosul has begun. Steinmeier: “It is important to plan already for the period after that.”

In the early hours of Monday (17 October), Iraqi security forces launched an offensive on the IS stronghold of Mosul with the support of Peshmerga forces and other groups. Their goal is to liberate the city from the scourge of the terrorist militia. It is unclear how long the battle to liberate it will take. Yet it is “important to plan already for the period after that”, as Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier stated.

Complex challenge

Peshmerga troops are involved in the operation to liberate several villages to the south east of Mosul
Peshmerga troops are involved in the operation to liberate several villages to the south‑east of Mosul© dpa/picture-alliance

The German Foreign Minister spoke of a “complex challenge” in connection with the military offensive launched by the Iraqi army and its allies to liberate the IS stronghold of Mosul. Heavy fighting can be expected, which could last for weeks, maybe even longer. The United Nations expects large numbers of people to flee from Mosul and the surrounding region. These people would then need to be provided with humanitarian assistance.

Liberation of Mosul would be a turning point and an opportunity

The liberation of the Iraqi city of Mosul “would be a turning point in the fight against IS in Iraq”, Steinmeier stressed in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). It “would doubtlessly present opportunities for stabilising the Iraqi state”. In view of the hoped‑for success of the military offensive, it is therefore all the more crucial that “all stakeholders now place the fight against IS at the top of their agenda”. The German Foreign Minister warned that attempting to settle old scores, fuel religious and ethnic animosity or bring about geopolitical shifts would jeopardise the common goal of the fight against IS. “We need to do everything we can to ensure that no new rifts are created within an already weakened Iraqi state.”

Acting with foresight now to seize opportunities

Speaking about the possible liberation of Mosul, Steinmeier emphasised, “We know that we have to act quickly so that those who have had to flee their homes can have the confidence to return, and we can offer them a concrete future for living in their liberated city and rebuilding it.” He added that Germany had therefore proposed that a so‑called “Mosul stabilisation council” be established “even now, at the beginning of the offensive”, which would start today to examine the way ahead following a possible liberation of Mosul.

Humanitarian challenge – Germany the largest donor

On his trip to Iraq in December 2015, Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Baharka refugee camp (file photo)
On his trip to Iraq in December 2015, Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Baharka refugee camp (file photo)© Michael Gottschalk/photothek.de

Under the coordination of the United Nations, humanitarian players have prepared themselves as well as possible for the military advance on Mosul, which has been planned for many weeks. One thing is clear: the offensive poses a major challenge for the international community with regard to humanitarian requirements. The United Nations reckons with major flows of refugees in the coming weeks as a consequence of the military operations.

Germany is the largest humanitarian donor in Iraq (to date 103,5 million euros in 2016); and in light of the developments in Mosul has already earmarked 10 million euros for United Nations humanitarian programmes (through a so‑called flash appeal) as well as 25 million euros for the World Food Programme. The funds are to be used to help people fleeing from Mosul, particularly with the construction of emergency accommodation, provision of food and healthcare.

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