ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday, marking the one-year anniversary since the liberation of Mosul, told NATO allies ongoing support was needed to defeat the threat of the Islamic State (IS) in the region.
Speaking at a NATO Summit meeting with members of the International Coalition against IS in Brussels, Abadi stressed on the need to achieve stability following a three-year-long war that ravaged the country.
“Two days ago was the first anniversary of the liberation of Mosul,” the so-called capital of the self-declared Caliphate, “a crowning victory” for Iraq, Abadi stated.
The defeat of IS in Mosul, Abadi wagered, was “the victory that began to weaken Daesh throughout the region and even across the world.”
Using the pejorative Arabic acronym for IS, Abadi admitted remnants of the group are still “trying to achieve gains.”
“We call upon the countries of the world to cooperate and unite to finish the war against Daesh in our region and to end its presence in Syria and prevent its expansion to other countries.”
Despite declaring final victory over IS late last year, Iraq has witnessed an upsurge in attacks and kidnappings by the extremist group. The most recent incident that grabbed the nation’s attention was the abduction and killing of eight Iraqi security force members on the Kirkuk – Baghdad road, which prompted a wave of executions for death row inmates.
Similarly, despite the liberation of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul’s reconstruction is stagnating with many unable to return.
In his speech in Brussels, Abadi claimed a total of $540 million had been allocated within the federal budget of Iraq for this year to “facilitate the return” of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to “stabilized liberated areas.”
However, based on estimates of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an independent humanitarian organization helping IDPs around the world, nearly $900 million is needed to repair basic infrastructure in the city of Mosul alone.
In February, at the donor conference for the reconstruction of Iraq hosted by Kuwait, Baghdad failed to secure its goal of $88.2 billion despite contributions and investments from the country’s allies.
On the one-year anniversary of his announcement in Mosul of the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in the city, Abadi praised the joint Iraqi and Kurdish security forces that took part in the operation.
Locals, however, though grateful, say it is still difficult to return to a normal life in a city left in tatters, with few basic services available, and a demolished infrastructure.
“We are glad that our city is liberated from Daesh (IS), but now there are few public services. We have no water and no electricity,” a resident of the ancient city told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Another said, “the federal government of Iraq has done very little to rebuild Mosul. There is a lack of services and the city has become full of trash.”
Although the eastern half of Mosul was spared the destruction experienced by the western half, the city as a whole is far from able to receive tens of thousands of displaced residents.
“More than 380,000 people are still displaced in and around Mosul as the city lies in ruins with a staggering eight million tons of debris, a year since it was retaken from [IS extremists],” the NRC claimed.
Abadi also claimed the Iraq “of today” is a “strong and unified country,” a statement he made in the backdrop of protests turned violent in the southern province of Basra, the country’s oil-hub. The Iraqi Prime Minister landed in Basra following the NATO Summit to address the growing discontent.
Editing by Nadia Riva