MESOP NEWS : New Kurdish-backed Arab Force to Patrol Nineveh Border Areas

Rudaw – 2016-11-07 00:23 GMT – The spokesperson for Nineveh’s Arab tribes says a new military brigade will be set up to patrol the volatile areas northwest of the province near the Syrian border.Mzahim Hawiyat told the Iraqi media Saturday that the new task force will mainly comprise local Arab residents that are willing to join the brigade and provide security for their bordering areas.

Hawiyat said the military unit, which is planned to be funded by the Kurdistan ministry of Peshmerga, will be patrolling the towns of Rabiya, Zummar, Shingal and Aiyaza in Nineveh province.”The new brigade will serve brotherhood and coexistence between Kurds and Arabs and their historical bonds,” Hawiyat said and explained that the task force was ordered at their own request.Several rivaling armed groups have been operating in the ISIS-ravaged city of Shingal and the surrounding areas following their liberation in November 2015.

Located dangerously close to the volatile lands in the Nineveh Plains in the northeast where Sunni extremists have found a safe haven under ISIS, it has increasingly been difficult to convince the refugees in Kurdistan Region to return to their homes while an apparent lawlessness governs the traumatized cities. Though historically and politically under Kurdish influence, much of these disputed territories are outside the administration of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and are effectively part of the Nineveh province where Mosul is the capital.

The area is also close to the Syrian border where groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have their bases, making it easier for the Kurdish guerrillas to access the areas.With nearly 20,000 Peshmerga troops based in this region, the KRG hopes that the mainly Kurdish territories in Nineveh will be integrated with the Kurdistan Region after an anticipated referendum.

Nineveh’s former Governor Atheel Nujaifi who has been an outspoken advocate of a semi independent region for Sunnis in Nineveh, has shown implicit support for the integration of Kurdish areas in the province with the KRG. Nujaifi told Rudaw last week that the Arabs and Kurds could enter negotiations about Nineveh’s future status without Baghdad’s meddling.