Recent guests on HERE & THERE have described the terrible situation in West Mosul, Iraq after Iraqi government forces with considerable help for the US and its allies defeated the Islamic State.
Tony Cheng of CGTN, Chinese television news, a respected journalist with some war zone experience said the damage in the Old City and other neighborhoods of West Mosul were worse than anything he’d ever seen. Tony noted refugees from Mosul are being processed, interrogated, and housed in camps scattered in the countryside around what was once a city of 2 million.
Conditions were dire, he said, and the Iraqi government seemed inadequately equipped to stabilize the situation.
Tim Arango of the NY Times noted that the damage done to other once Sunni-majority, once Islamic State held Iraqi cities like much of Fallujah and virtually all of Ramadi, to which almost no one has returned, only, Tim reminded us, Mosul was 10 times the size of Ramadi. Estimates of civilians killed in the battle for West Mosul range from 5 to 40,000.
There is considerable communal wreckage as well. Mosul, unlike Fallujah and Ramadi, was an extremely diverse city with a Sunni majority but many Shi’ite Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds, Yazidi, Shabak and Christian residents. Now, a UN executive in Mosul wonders if they’ll ever live together in peace again. Right now, he says, all the minorities hold the Sunni responsible for the IS tyranny, and the destruction of their city.
Bringing all these moving parts into civility is going to be the responsibility of Iraqi governments, both national, provincial and local. Among the Mosul refugees, none of these governments get a lot of credibility or respect.
Clearly the Iraqis, from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi down to the most shattered, homeless refugee family are going to need a lot of help.
Where that post-war recovery money and personnel might come from and how they might be used was the subject of a just-published report by our guest Shelly Culbertson
and her fellow RAND Corporation analyst (and former HERE AND THERE guest) Linda Robinson. Shelly, whose book on the Middle East, THE FIRES OF SPRING, is highly recommended specializes in education and has worked as a consultant for the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq and has spent much of recent years observing schools and related family and social services in refugee camps from Turkey and Lebanon to Jordan, Syria and Iraq…including recently camps close to Mosul.
RAND Corporation scholar and analyst Shelly Culbertson has spent years living and working in the Middle East, in recent years on a very good book published last year THE FIRES OF SPRING. Her specialty is education and among her assignments has been advising on education reforms for the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. This brought her close to the battleground city of Mosul and to its refugees. Shelly and her RAND colleague Linda Robinson have just published a report on the challenges of re-stabilizing Mosul and Iraq after the defeat of the Islamic State, ISIS.