Roundtable on Post-IS Reconciliation in Nineveh

Reconciliation in post-IS Mosul and beyond was the key focus of discussion during a closed meeting at MERI on 3 November 2016 held under the Chatham House rule. Participants, including Director General for Humanitarian Affairs at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Christiaan Rebergen, Dutch Ambassador Jan Waltmans, Deputy Dutch Consul-General Cor Stouten and other diplomats from the Netherlands, KRG policy makers and representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, debated how best to reconcile different communities through domestic action in this difficult environment. They also discussed the role of the international community in supporting this process.

Concerns were raised over the proliferation of military groups in Nineveh, as well as other points of tension between different communities. It was noted that some NGOs and other actors have launched reconciliation efforts in the past, but that results at the community level had been limited. At the same time, reconstruction and development efforts on the ground have been sparse so far.

An emphasis was placed on the need for effective governance in a post-IS environment. Several scenarios were raised regarding possibilities post-IS, including leaving Nineveh as one province or converting it to a region with several provinces and districts. In the end, there was agreement that there needs to be a clear plan for the political framework once Mosul has been liberated.

The role of the international community was also discussed, with some advocating for more funding to be provided by bodies such as the EU and UN, perhaps directly to the KRG or through a joint body at a federal level. The role of advocacy and providing leadership were also highlighted as potential roles that these institutions could fulfill. It was mentioned that to ensure security for minority groups, international guarantees should be made considering there is lack of trust between minority groups and the Baghdad and Erbil governments. Ultimately, however, it was acknowledged that the international community cannot solve the conflict issues alone and that bottom-up solutions are needed alongside the top-down: every group has a responsibility to ensure reconciliation.

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About MERI:  The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.  Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.

MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).

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