Isis may have been defeated a year ago in Mosul, but the ideology that caused it to grow lives on.
The city, belonging predominantly to the Sunni Arab demographic who suffered the most during the fighting, must not be allowed to be neglected any further.defeated in Mosul, one of Iraq’s most historically important and populated cities.
Dressed in military fatigues and surrounded by his top brass, the Iraqi leader grandiosely declared on state television that the nine-month battle that had seen some of the deadliest and most destructive urban warfare since the Second World War had finally come to an end.
While there are no official numbers released on the civilian death toll, some estimates place the number at a horrifying 40,000 dead and buried under the ruined husk of the once great city. Whatever the number is, there is no detracting from the great and avoidable human cost of the operation to recapture Mosul.
To this day, bodies are being retrieved from under the rubble by civilian volunteers, as they are left abandoned by the authorities in Baghdad who have been too busy with election campaigns and political horse trading to be bothered about their citizens. The smell of death still lingers on the streets, as corpses decomposing and bloated in the scorching Iraqi heat continue to poison the air.
Casting our minds back to the tragedy of the 9/11 terror attacks, would the American people have stayed silent if the government neglected clearing the ruins of the World Trade Centre? Would they have accepted for the bodies of the 3,000 innocents senselessly killed by al-Qaeda to be left buried under the rubble for more than a year before they could say goodbye to their loved ones at proper funerals? Of course not. Yet that is exactly what the people of Mosul are being forced to endure, as their government abandons them.
The truly sad thing is that, after all the destruction in Iraq in the war against Isis, the extremists are still a threat, conducting bombings, abductions and murders more than seven months after they were declared completely defeated in Iraq.
Mosul is still nowhere near being rebuilt, with a health crisis gripping the city. Medical charity MSF said on Monday that 70 per cent of the health system in Mosul is still dysfunctional one year after it was prised from Isis’s grasp, with nine out of 13 hospitals suffering heavy damage during the fighting.
The fundamental issues that led to the rise of Isis have not been treated and therefore the symptoms of that disease remain. Mosul, a city belonging predominantly to the Sunni Arab demographic who suffered the most during the fighting against Isis, must not be allowed to be neglected any further.
Chronic neglect will lead to the people feeling resentment, festering hatred and feelings of wanting revenge against everyone who had a role to play in their misery. Such powerful negative emotions are the doorways through which radical ideologies find an entry into people’s minds.
The Iraqi government and the international community must step up and take responsibility for the eradication of radicalisation. This means development, education, the provision of healthcare and basic services, and, most importantly, to instil hope in the population for a better tomorrow away from the horrors of today. Without this, the monsters of the recent past will rear their heads once more, and next time might be even worse not only for Iraqis, but for the rest of the world too.