Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared that only Sunni Muslims should be allowed to live in the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul once it has been liberated from Islamic State control.
Interviewed by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the Saudi Arabia-based TV station Rotana Khalejia on 2 Oct., Erdoğan stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Western coalition “will not allow sectarian dominance” after IS militants are ousted.
“But the question is: Who will remain in the city after that?” he continued. “Of course, the Sunni Arabs, the Sunni Turkmen and the Sunni Kurds.” In particular, he specified that the Shiite militia, Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, “should not be allowed to enter Mosul”.
“Mosul is for the people of Mosul,” he emphasised. “Therefore, nobody else should be allowed to enter into these areas.”
The Turkish president made no reference to Mosul’s indigenous population of Iraqi Christians, predominantly ethnic Assyrians, who have maintained a Christian presence in the city for centuries, since the earliest days of the Church. Forced into a rapid exodus when IS stormed into Mosul in June 2014, most of these displaced Iraqi Christians still live as internal refugees in the Ankawa enclave in northern Iraq’s Erbil city.
Although 35,000 Christians lived in Mosul until the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the city became an Al-Qaeda stronghold over the next decade. Some 12,000 Assyrian Christians fled the city in 2008 following a wave of murders and threats against their community. By the time Islamic State militants overran the city in June 2014, only 3,000 Christians still resided in Mosul.