In post-ISIS Mosul, Iraqis see hope but also challenges ahead

Sunday 02/07/2017
Back to the future. Displaced Iraqis return to their homes in western Mosul. (AFP)

London- Iraq edged closer to announc­ing victory against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul after gov­ernment troops captured the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Old City, where the militants’ lead­er Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate in 2014.

Military operations continued to rid the city of the last pockets of re­sistance but capturing the mosque signalled the symbolic defeat of ISIS.

“We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on his Twitter account, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool told state TV that “their (ISIS’s) fic­titious state has fallen.”

Following a 3-year ordeal, Iraqis are looking forward to a better life after Mosul’s liberation from the horrific rule of ISIS. Many challenges remain as the country has yet to heal from its sectarian and ethnic troubles.

There are also the pressing needs of hundreds of thousands of civil­ians who lack adequate nutrition, medicine and housing. The United Nations is struggling to deal with the influx of internally displaced people living in dire conditions in temporary camps near Mosul.

The reconstruction of Mosul is looking to be an increasingly dif­ficult task, especially considering the delay that other areas liberated from ISIS in Iraq over the past two years have experienced in return­ing to normalcy.

Iraqi Minister of Planning Sal­man al-Jumaili said the country needs $100 billion over the next ten years for reconstruction of conflict-affected areas. The recon­struction plan, which requires the help of international bodies as well as the private sector, is to start in 2018.

Many historic sites and artefacts in Mosul were destroyed and other relics were stolen, making the full restoration of the city’s heritage unlikely. A week before its capture, al-Nuri mosque was destroyed by ISIS, although the militants blamed US air strikes.

The mosque dates to the 12th century and the loss of its icon­ic minaret, known as al-Hadba (hunchback) for its leaning look, shocked many Iraqis as it was one of the county’s most recognisable monuments.