Scope of internationlisation
The Strategy of Internationalisation and its Desired Outcomes
The task of the Mosul Foundation is to work more than it talks, but still communicate its actions. The Internationalisation of Mosul is a demand put forward by the people of the city and is not an idea developed by political scientists.
In all their communications with the outside word about the destruction of their city by Iraqi government forces and the various militias connected to the Iraqi authorities (and to Iran); about the degrading inhuman treatment they’ve been subjected to, being forced to sleep rough in the rain, mud and snow without water or medication; about the Iraqi government starting the battle for Mosul without a single ambulance, clinic or wheelchair being made available to the trapped civilian population; and about the regime’s sectarian abuses and active efforts to change the demographics and cultural identity of the city; the people of Mosul have been saying that this is not how a government treats its citizens.
All their demands can be summarised in one word: Internationalisation. This could be a long, drawn out process, or it could happen suddenly following a decision by the international community making it a reality on the ground.
It matters whether Internationalisation comes into effect in accordance with a road map drawn by local communities and specialists in tune with the demands and aspiration of the population of the city (and this is what the Mosul Foundation aims to achieve) or if the matter is left to be decided at a multi-national level where different interests come into work, not always in the best interest of the city of Mosul and its citizens.
The main issue here is the ability of local specialists to arrive at, and later execute this road map?
Global powers must realize that the people they are currently dealing with when discussing the issues surrounding Mosul are not the best that a city like Mosul can produce. These politicians (with their rivalries, rhetoric and competing interests) do not meet the expectations of the people of Mosul. They simply lack credibility and are not competent enough to navigate their way through this very complex political environment, crowded as it is with competing regional and global interests. What’s more, everyone realizes that these political rivalries will eventually be transformed, after the fall of ISIS, into a vicious power struggle plunging Mosul into a new, unending cycle of political and economic upheaval.
There is common interest between the city of Mosul and the global powers who could eventually impose the Internationalisation on the city. Mosul therefore needs to align its interests with those of the international community. This is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.
Mosul needs to present a viable alternative to the international community. The city needs to remove the privilege of representation from the current crop of failed politicians and place it firmly with local professionals and specialists (sociologists, academics, educationalists, the business community, management experts, etc.) who are better placed and qualified to identify suitable and imaginative solutions to mend the city’s broken society. Such a move would bring immediate benefits:
Locally: it would help identify and priorities problems and the search for real practical solutions, and would avoid the usual political rhetoric, game playing and empty grandstanding of the various political groupings.
Internationally: The pro-active participation of local experts and professionals will raise the standard and nature of the dialogue between the City and the international community to that usually associated with international professional institutions (instead of the political and sectarian confines of local politics). This will create many opportunities for international partnerships with various groups and institutions in the countries of influence and increase the chances of success of local projects. These would now represent real opportunities for investment instead of being a welcome but ultimately ineffective gesture of sympathy.
This would be an exceptional period that society (any society) would experience following the collapse of the State and the complete failure of politics. A transitional period in which the administration of the city is transferred from the (absent) State to the city’s civic society. A period that would naturally come to an end once the State had recovered and is once again able to discharge its functions and responsibilities.
Mosul needs an organisation of its able and wise sons and daughters, assisted by their brothers and sisters who have lived and worked in their specialist fields (in the sciences, medicine, academia, the media, management sciences, business administration, etc.) in some of the world’s most advanced economies and are thus familiar with first world practices and what needs to be done to deliver successful re-development solutions. This organisation will benefit from the security and stability provided by the Internationalisation of the city until the process of re-building is complete and the city institutions can stand on their own two feet; awaiting the re-establishment of an effective central State that works for the benefit of its citizens.
The role of this organisation (or collection) of local professionals and experts include the following:
To re-built and re-habilitate the city, including its human resources.
To develop a new administrative and political framework for the city.
To prepare for free and fair elections in the city.
To act as a watchdog and regulator of the new political process in the city.
This organisation would gradually withdraw from the political scene as the administrative systems mature, but would continue to perform its watchdog function. This is a formula that is well understood by the societies of the advanced nations yielding influence in the region, and one that provides real opportunities to revive and enable the civic institutions of the City and would serve as an example to the rest of the region.
Internationalisation is thus not an aim, but a means to a number of goals that serve the city of Mosul and its citizens. If this process is not controlled by the best people that the city can offer, it would be by its corrupt elements. The first sign of failure of the international community to engage Mosul civic society is the move (by the international collation) to talk to and attract the Arab tribes that live in the surrounding countryside. Mosul is of course an Arab city proud of its Arab culture and heritage, but Mosul society is not a tribal society and the city is not run along tribal lines or in accordance with tribal conventions. Mosul society is a meritocratic civic society, and any settlement that ignores this fact will be doomed to failure.
No two Iraqis will disagree (apart from Iraqi politicians) that the new State of Iraq (after 2003) has failed (interestingly enough, this is a view shared by the president of Iraq’s occupying power, i.e. president Trump), or that the re-establishment of an effective administration in Iraq today is as complicated (if not more so) than the initial creation of the modern state of Iraq in 1923 during the time of the British mandate. At that time, Iraqis who had held senior positions in the previous Ottoman administration were used as a kernel to re-establish civilian government and create the modern state of Iraq, a state that successfully incorporated Muslims, Christians, Jews, Arabs, Kurds, Sunnis, Shias, Armenians, etc. living and working together in harmony. In 1923, the role of Iraqi specialists and experts (lawyers, doctors, writers, historians, businessmen and academics) was crucial in the success of the Iraq project. It will be again in 2017 after the fall of ISIS.
The people of Mosul (The city that had provided Iraq’s top administrators before 2003) are the city’s very own lifeboat. They are the ones who will re-build the city and protect its heritage and character in the aftermath of the second Persian destruction of the city (in the 21st century, the first having taken place in the 6th century BCE).
The people of Mosul have already sketched a roadmap to the Internationalisation of their city: the city is a centre of civilization that needs the instruments of the State like a fish needs water. The State has collapsed and the city does not have any political parties that enjoy the support of the population, and no politicians that enjoy the trust of the people. The city is not a tribal centre and does not follow any tribal leaders. It needs security and stability to allow its citizens to re-group, and start the process of re-building. This is why the city is backing Internationalisation as a solution to its current difficulties.
The internationalisation of Mosul would not be an unprecedented move in international politics. Kosovo used to be part of the State of Serbia and Montenegro before the international intervention following the Kosovo war in 1998-1999. The people of Kosovo had demonstrated how the behaviour of the Serb State towards Kosovo was not commensurate with that of a responsible State towards its own citizens. Policies like the abrogation of Kosovan political rights and the attempt to forcefully change the demographics of the region and its cultural identity meant that the Serbian Government had lost its legitimacy in Kosovo, despite having all the trappings of Statehood, like a parliament, constitution, flag, etc.
Another example of Internationalisation is Bosnia after the Dayton Agreement in 1955. In both cases, the internationalisation of the problem deterred a corrupt political regime and established the conditions for stability and security, allowing the population to start the process of re-building. In both cases the Internationalisation project had been a great success allowing both peoples to become full members of the international community of nations. In the case of Mosul, the hope is that Internationalisation would provide a path for the rescue of not only the city, but Iraq as a country.