In Mosul, Iraq Must Learn From Past Mistakes


As the Iraqi government advances their timeline to overtake the Islamic State – controlled  city of Mosul, many question the readiness of not only the Iraqi government, but also the Iraqi people. The Islamic State has trapped an estimated 1.2 million people inside the city of Mosul, in addition to the nearly 800,000 Iraqis living in surrounding areas. Experts estimate the current amount of internally displaced Iraqi people at a staggering 3.5 million citizens. The Iraqi government’s sudden push for the re-capture of Mosul from the Islamic State by the end of the year further complicates the already drastic situation regarding population displacement. Humanitarian agencies around the world have organized preparation efforts for what has become the single largest, and most complex humanitarian operation in the world this year . Racing against the clock to prepare the basic necessities of emergency camps, water, and health services, many experts worry that time has run out.

Examining previous liberation efforts in Fallujah, the insufficient preparation prior to military advances against the Islamic state resulted in the absence of dire necessities such as food, water, shelter, and medicine. The failed assistance to the displaced population proved the cause of many unnecessary deaths. This lack of preparation prior to the advancement of military forces has resulted in the failure to implement effective infrastructure or integrate marginal populations in the future. Returning to the liberated city, many civilians struggle to pass through rigid security checkpoints. Any family with even distant ties to the Islamic State will be turned away and forced into exile, fleeing to any remaining territory controlled by the jihadists. Although the process of repopulating the city remains tedious and difficult, admitted civilians that once called Fallujah home return to an abyss of leveled debris and destruction, no water or electricity, and rampant oil fires.

In regards to the recent liberation of the city of Qayyarah in late August, although the Iraqi government has ousted the presence of the Islamic state, the city remains in complete turmoil. Dead bodies, explosive devices, and mines litter the streets. Oil flows through the city, contaminating any access to water. Fires rage, darkening the air with thick smoke. The destruction of the city has greatly impacted the health of returning citizens, as the air remains poisoned with pollution from the retreat of the insurgents. Although a growing lack of infrastructure pervades the city of Qayyarah, many returning citizens, scarred by their experience, retain their allegiance to Iraqi military forces in hopes of liberating Mosul, the final Islamic State stronghold in Iraq.

The need for immediate worldwide, humanitarian assistance for Mosul remains essential, particularly in relation to its staggering population size in comparison to Fallujah and Qayyarah. The second-largest city in Iraq, Mosul remains the last pillar of strength for the Islamic State in  the country. With estimates of nearly 1 million Iraqis readying to flee Mosul, and as many as 700,000 likely in need of basic assistance, humanitarian partners struggle to fund and prepare for the volume of assistance the liberation of Mosul will demand. Issuing a flash appeal for $284 million in July, only half of the projected funding has been received to date. Experts and humanitarian partners around the globe race to prepare and ready a plan for the future of Mosul, hoping to combat the challenges faced previously by the liberation’s of Fallujah and Qayyarah. As Iraqi military forces begin to loosen the Islamic State’s hold on Mosul, the need for immediate humanitarian assistance and effective planning for a post- Islamic state has become vital.

By KaLynn Wood

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