Senior officials concerned about decision to arm residents in Iraq's Nineveh

“Arming the villages is not the best decision as the weapons may end up in the hands of the terrorist groups themselves.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The decision to arm Iraqi tribes and residents in the villages of Nineveh Governorate may not be the best solution to secure the security gap in the area, Mahma Khalil, the mayor of Sinjar (Shingal) district, said on Sunday.  

The announcement to arm residents in the villages far from the district centers was made in a statement on May 9 by Brigadier-General Najm al-Jabouri, head of the Iraqi army’s Nineveh Operations Command.

Read More: Iraqi army plans to arm residents in 50 Mosul villages as ISIS threat persists

According to the Shingal mayor, the decision to arm the people in the villages of Nineveh sends “a negative message” on both the international and national level.

“Iraq, with the joint efforts of the Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces, fought and defeated” the Islamic State, Khalil told Shafaq news. These forces “should have little difficulties in protecting the people from sudden insurgencies conducted by ISIS sleeper cells or any other armed group.”

Khalil expressed his concerns that the arming of citizens would ignite tribal rivalries and those who seek revenge after the so-called Islamic State’s short-lived reign.

“Arming the villages is not the best decision as the weapons may end up in the hands of the terrorist groups themselves,” he emphasized.

“Instead, the government should focus more on providing the needs and basic services for the displaced people to encourage them to return to their homes.”

Although Iraq declared a military defeat against the Islamic State in December 2017, the terrorist group continues to carry out insurgency-style attacks in formerly liberated areas like Mosul, which it once declared its de-facto capital, and even places it never controlled like the nation’s capital of Baghdad

Khalil underlined that the decision is going to create a problem for the security and prosperity of the region, especially among ethnic minorities who live in the area.

“The decision is unconstitutional” and needs to be reconsidered, he stated.  

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany