I know it can be hard to look past the destruction wrought by the Islamic State, but together we can build a peaceful, prosperous city.
- By Nawfal HammadiNawfal Hammadi is the governor of Iraq's Nineveh province.
I am writing from Mosul, where Iraqis are fighting to take back their streets from the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS. There is difficult fighting ahead, but have no doubt, this terrorist group will be defeated and will never return. The fighting ahead will be tougher and deadlier — but a future free from ISIS is within our reach.
As the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, I have witnessed the tremendous hardship wrought by ISIS. But I am inspired every day by the efforts of Iraqis and our international partners to overcome the challenges we face. In recent weeks, I commemorated the opening of an asphalt factory in the Nineveh Plains that will help repave roads destroyed by ISIS. I also saw firsthand how a water-pumping station that pumps water throughout liberated eastern Mosul has been brought back online. Now, instead of busing in tens of thousands of bottles of water per day, this pump is providing drinkable water to the people of Mosul. Teams of young people and scores of trucks and bulldozers work every day to clear rubble and wipe the stain of ISIS from Nineveh.
Working closely with Baghdad, we struck a deal to allocate 40,000 barrels of oil per day to the Nineveh refinery located outside of Erbil. Kerosene and diesel from that refinery now powers liberated areas in Qayyarah and southern Nineveh. Because of the work to return electricity and services to eastern Mosul, 70 percent of that area’s population has returned.
I know it is hard to look beyond the suffering and rubble created by ISIS’s violence and see a Mosul worth believing in. Thousands have lost their lives in the fighting, and many remain displaced. Some predict only more violence ahead or claim that money invested in Iraq is a waste.
That sort of cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Iraqis, together with the international community, must fight such pessimism and show that we can work together to build a stronger Iraq that is full of opportunity, open to all ethnic and religious groups, and closed to violent extremists.
There are plenty of optimistic stories available — stories that can create trust in the people of Mosul and instill hope in them — if only we choose to tell them. We should highlight efforts by the Yazidis to recover from genocide and to reintegrate into a new Nineveh. We should support the latest efforts by Arabs and Kurds, Shabaks and Christians, Yazidis, Turkmens and Kakais to remain engaged in Iraq’s multicultural future.
We can only accomplish this project if Iraqis work together with the rest of the world. On behalf of the people of Mosul, I would like to express my appreciation for all who have provided the military might to drive ISIS out of our province and the humanitarian aid to support the almost 300,000 Moslawis who have sought shelter from the conflict in internally displaced person camps. Thanks to your sacrifices, ISIS will soon be defeated in Mosul — and thanks to your expertise and aid, the humanitarian crisis has been lessened.
However, the scars left by ISIS are deep, and the dangers remain real. My office is working with the United Nations to determine humanitarian and stabilization needs and to provide assistance to begin the process of returning life to Mosul. But to move beyond immediate needs and build a stable Mosul, we need continued support.
The first step is for Iraqis to feel restored hope for a brighter future. That’s why, when an area of our city is liberated, we raise the Iraqi flag from the tallest pole — so all can see that ISIS is gone. A feeling of hope in Mosul is what will inspire young Moslawis to disavow terrorism, international companies to invest in the city, and educational institutions and high-tech companies to partner with Kurdish and Iraqi institutions to provide scholarships, internships, and know-how.
There is reason for hope in a post-liberation Mosul, and I am asking the international community to share in this belief and join Iraqis to help cultivate it. Together, our efforts can eliminate ISIS and build a country free from terror.