Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Insurgency Provides Financial Lure

Iraqi officials say jobless men are becoming insurgents in order to earn money.
By Hisham Mohammed

Civilian and military officials here say locals who have joined the insurgency were driven to do so by the high unemployment rate.

A recent UN survey found that around a fifth of the Iraqi population was out of work, with most of those in employment having to find more than one job to make ends meet.

Ninewa governor Duraed Kashmoola told IWPR 90 per cent of the insurgents in Mosul are not “believers” but, because of financial hardship, are drawn into the ranks of the militants where they can earn a few hundred dollars for planting a roadside bomb.

“Integrating them back into society is not a complicated, mystifying thing,” said Kashmoola. “The reconstruction projects we are asking for would reduce unemployment and so eliminate the insurgency.”

Brigadier General Salim al-Haj Isa, head of Ninewa council and a retired member of the local security committee, said officials are trying to implement projects that will provide jobs for people.

He said this was a matter of urgency because the rising cost of goods and house price inflation were putting a severe financial burden on local people.

He agreed with the governor that militants were less driven by religious zeal than a desperate need to make money.

“Escalating unemployment and the deteriorating economic situations play a major role in pushing Iraqis into joining the insurgency,” he said.

American officials here refuse to accept this view, insisting that most of the militants in the area were foreign fighters.

“There is no direct relation between the economy and the insurgency,” said Sergeant First Class James Joyner of the Stryker Brigade. “The insurgents coming from abroad are killing Iraqis for no reason. And here’s my question: why are they doing this and what do they want?”

Locals are meanwhile divided about whether more American investment in the area would assuage the grievances many feel towards the Coalition forces.

Housewife Amal Ameen said if unemployment is eliminated, and Iraqis have what they need to live a good life, they will “love Americans because man loves whoever helps him”.

However, grocer Mohammed Saleh said it didn’t matter how many jobs the US helped to create, “Whatever the Americans do, people will not like them because they are regarded as occupying forces.”

Teacher Qasim Mohammed Goran said providing jobs and rebuilding the city will have mixed results in terms of the way people perceive Coalition troops.

“Those who don’t hate the Americans will love them,” he said. “But those who hate them will hate them more and more.”

Hisham Mohammed is an IWPR trainee in Mosul.