OSC: Candidate For Governor of Ninawa Says Political Tactics Can Resolve Violence

The USG Open Source Center translates an interview in a Qatari newspaper with the incoming Sunni Arab governor of the northern Ninevah (Ninawa, Mosul) Province, one of the more violent places in Iraq. He focuses on steps that need to be taken by the Kurdistan leaders to improve relations with Sunni Arabs in the north.

Candidate For Governor of Ninawa Says Political Tactics Can Resolve Violence
Interview with Athil al-Nujayfi, sole candidate for the post of governor of Mosul, by Muhammad Sadiq Amin entitled He stresses that the People of Mosul Do Not Welcome the Kurdish Leadership; The Coming Governor of Mosul Tells Al-Arab: Not only Military Tactics Can End Violence, Political Tactics Can Also End It.
Al-Arab Online
Monday, April 6, 2009
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

(Amin) After you won the elections what kind of alliances are you going to have, and how will you distribute positions?

(Al-Nujayfi) Our alliances are clear and it is known that we do not need any further alliance to form the local government in Ninawa Governorate. We have over half the seats in parliament and we have two primary allies, the Yezidi Reform Movement and the Democratic Shabak Grouping, which added two seats in our favor, making us have 21 seats with the remaining groups still waiting to make decisions on their position.

For example, we are still waiting on the Islamic Party’s response even though they are very close to us. We met with them more than once but nothing has transpired as of yet. Everyone, particularly the Nineveh Brotherhood List, must understand and accept our political program as a base for any alliance, and that we cannot make allies with those who reject it. We have yet to meet anyone from the Nineveh Brotherhood List on this subject, and provided they are ready to implement our political program then there is room for dialogue between us. However, if they insist on sticking to their political program then that will not serve the situation. As for us we draw strength from the majority of people in the governorate. We have a popular majority and a majority in the number of seats in the local council.
Cont’d (click below or on “comments”)

(Amin) What are your conditions for an alliance with the Kurds?

(Al-Nujayfi) First of all we have major objections on the local leadership of the Kurdish parties in Ninawa Governorate. The objections come from the people of Mosul against these leaders accusing them of being responsible for several incidents against the locals in Ninawa. We asked the Kurdish leadership several times to turn a new page by changing these faces into ones that are acceptable to the people in order to allow dialogue to be conducted. But all we got was stringent comments from the available local leaders, which we will not reply to.

In addition to changing the leaders there are four issues that need to be discussed and we want the leadership of the Kurdish parties to understand this need. The first issue is concerns about the local prisoners from Ninawa Governorate imprisoned in the Kurdistan Region. The region does not have the right to arrest the citizens of the governorate and transport them into the region. They must hand them over to the central government in Baghdad or the local government in Ninawa so as they can stand trial according to the law.

The second issue is that of the displaced. There are a large number of displaced Arabs and Kurds that live on the outskirts of Mosul. They are people who lost there homes and properties. Some of them were victims of the displacement campaigns, while others were not. We would like to discuss this issue with the responsible authorities in order to distinguish between both displacement types and achieve justice for both of them. An investigation into this matter must be conducted so as we can give them some of their rights and this will lead to a calming of the situation in the city.

The third issue is that of the administrative borders for the governorate. I would like to make clear that what we mean by this has nothing to do with what is present in the constitution or article 140. That is a sovereign matter that is discussed by the central government in Baghdad and by the Iraqi parliament, since it is related to the Iraqi constitution and not the authority of the local council. What we refer to when we say administrative borders is that the Ninawa Governorate Council must have total authority over all the administrative borders of the governorate. We cannot have two forces claiming power within the governorate, and that will cause some places, areas, and quarters to be put outside the local government’s control, thus creating a duality in power.

We must manage the authority to make it adhere to the governing council. Of course there will be representation for the Kurdish parties in the council and they must work with the governorate through the council, not through the Kurdistan Region.

The forth issue is the political and cultural file. There are thousands of employed teachers from the Kurdistan Region working within the governorate who teach using the region’s curriculum. We need to have a unified direction for the governorate, and if there are any program suggestions by the Kurdish parties then they need to be addressed through the Ninawa Education Directorate, not by isolating certain areas using certain cultural and educational programs. There is also the Kurdish political rhetoric that instills hatred and strife between Arabs and Kurds. We would like to discuss this rhetoric and exchange it with one that bolsters coexistence in these areas, over the political one that calls for hatred and strife.

(Amin) The political system in Iraq is based on consensus. If you are unable to strike an accord with the Kurds can you manage the governorate purely with Arabs?

(Al-Nujayfi) On the issue of excluding the Nineveh Brotherhood List from the final form of the new administration can be done, practically speaking. We can exclude them and form an independent government and local administration on our own. But as I have said, we are presenting specific issues and we want the Kurdish leadership to give us clear answers. They must adhere to the people’s demands to discuss and accept the said issues and change their local authorities. But for it to keep using the same policies in the governorate is unacceptable.

(Amin) The city of Mosul suffers from several ailments. What are your priorities for the coming stage?

(Al-Nujayfi) First of all is to achieve true national reconciliation that allows all those displaced to return to the city, and I believe that our city is able to absorb all the displaced. From there we would launch a strategic and objective development program. We would like all the citizens in the governorate to participate in this development program, and we have an ambitious economic program for the governorate.

I stress that we must depart from several disputed issues between the Kurdistan Region’s government and the government in Baghdad, and that we want to work with our Kurdish brothers as well as all the other ethnicities on grounds that we are all citizens of the governorate, and away from any foreign agendas.

(Amin) We heard that you attended a conference in Amman to draw investors into putting their money into the city during your term in office. What are the results of those meetings?

(Al-Nujayfi) It was not a conference, just a consultation meeting with a number of businessmen and economic elites. Some of them had served the country for many years, and some held high offices in the former Iraqi state with experience in finance and economics. Some of the businessmen conveyed to us their problems and reservations on why they are not coming to invest at this time, and what they require in order to start this effort soon. Some of them had a pessimistic view, while others were optimistic.

What we say is that as long as we are out of the authority we can excuse those who are pessimistic, and we say to them that we will soon be able to present efforts that will inspire optimism, God willing. We are certain that the future will be good. There is a lot of very experienced people that hold Mosul dear to them, some of them are outside Iraq now, and we must make use of their knowledge.

(Amin) Talking about investments in Mosul in light of closed roads, blackouts, unstable security, miserable services, and the lack of livelihood for the people is a little premature, would you not agree?

(Al-Nujayfi) We believe that this situation will end soon. There should concern for the activities, security, and economic situation of the citizens not only for the officials. The country’s authorities are created to serve the citizens and must not become a hindrance to them. I believe that the situation will be resolved soon, God willing. As you know we are currently outside the authority, we do not hold the responsibility at the moment. Our additional concern will be to invigorate the commercial activities in Ninawa.

(Amin) As for the security situation, even after the implementation of two military operations, the Roar of the Lions and the Two Springs, the city still suffers from booby trapped cars, explosive charges, and assassinations. How do you appraise this?

(Al-Nujayfi) The security file is extremely important, and to resolve it we must first make a distinction in the types of violence that occur in Ninawa and in Iraq as a whole. We classify it into three categories: There is violence that is perpetrated for political purposes, there is violence committed for crime, and there is violence for the sake of foreign agendas. We believe that every type must be dealt with individually until we get results that allow us to secure society and its citizens from the repercussions of violence.

Our plan relies primarily on political tactics to resolve the security situation, instead of relying on the military situation or its answer. We believe that through political tactics we can resolve several issues.

(Description of Source: Doha Al-Arab Online in Arabic — Website of independent newspaper, focuses on pan-Arab affairs; http://www.alarab.com.qa/)

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