On Saturday, Baghdad experienced a nearly daily occurrence in the city long known for learning and knowledge. A gruesome and unimaginable terrorist attack killed 250 innocent Iraqis as they went about their day at a shopping centre. Yes, a shopping centre. A public place where men, women and children are generally safe and at least allowed to be cocooned from the ongoing conflicts and terrors happening elsewhere. ISIS and its supporters feed off of Iraqi fears and trauma. It has grown big by terrorising ordinary people and taunting governments especially politicians. After this recent, horrific terror attack, the Iraqi interior minister resigned out of both frustration and lost. The fact that ISIS remains in Mosul has equally enraged both Iraqi civilians and the government. The army has vowed to take back Mosul with or without the United States and NATO's help. Iraqi Kurds have been doing their part to liberate themselves from ISIS and keep the determined foot soldiers of the organization from regaining Kurdish towns along the Iraq-Syrian border and inside Syria itself. For this, Turkey has been nervously keeping watch on Syrian Kurds who are independently in control of their local towns and regional governments on the Syrian-Turkish borders. Iraqi Kurds through the YPK, Peshmerga which still exists and other local Kurdish militias have done well to keep themselves ISIS-free and freed Yazidi women and children especially girls from ISIS brutality and slavery.
Cradle of Civilization's reoccurring painFor years, Iraqis regardless of religion and ethnicity have protested against the Iraqi government's lack of courage and backbone to put a final end to ongoing terrorist attacks that have turned the once secular, multiethnic and stable country into the Western media's poster child of instability and terror: a Somalia 2.0. The 2003 American-UK invasion of Iraq that was condemned by the rest of the world (even Russia and China) had transformed Iraqi society from a mixed religious society that had one of the high education rates of women in the Arab World into a society where violence is now tenfold what it was in 2003. Not since 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war (US supported the Iraqi government against Iran), have Iraqis experienced constant fear and trauma. The invasion (alongside de-baathificaton that led to dismantling the entire Iraqi army) also created enormous sectarian violence that was almost non existence even under Saddam Hussein. Neighbourhoods and schools that were free of banning and marginalizing people based on being Shia, Sunni, non religious, etc now question if their former neighbours are truly Muslim or if they belong to a Shia or Sunni militia that will betray them. There are Iraqis who have been calling for national unity and to permanently end the sectarianism which has hurt the country in multiple ways. People have forgotten that Iraq and Syria have historically been secular throughout their recent histories. Libya too was and in some cases still is secular and religion plays a minimal part in people's public lives. Egypt has famously wrestled with becoming a religious state over keeping itself secular. If Egypt is ever captured by ISIS, the consequences will ripple across Africa and by felt by its immediate neighbours. ISIS has been using the chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya to build up its supporter basis and as justification for terrorism across the world.
Over the past month, the Iraqi national army has been succeeding in pushing ISIS foot soldiers and takfiri cousins out of Fallujah, Iraq and it's surrounding areas. Fallujah is most remembered for being one of the major Iraqi cities that suffered heavy bombing from American and British armies during the Battle of Fallujah and the second battle. Half the city was bombed to the ground and hundreds of civilians killed. After the battle the remaining residents and IDP Iraqis were indirectly blamed for their city's destruction. They were also guilty by association for having supported Iraqi militants resisting the Anglo-American occupation of their city and country as many resistance groups who have been labelled as terrorists by hegemonic superpower in the past. As a double insult, depleted Uranium was also used in the bombing of Fallujah leading to continual birth defect in newborn babies and high number of cancer cases in Iraqi children and parents that are still ongoing. This is not the first time that Iraqi people have had to suffer from Western bombings and Western backed UN sanctions. Fallujah, like Baghdad continues to witness on and off again violence from ISIS, Al Qaeda affiliates and local militia groups who like in Libya refuse to give up their weapons fearing reprisals from the same people they had wronged in he past would seek revenge. Caught in the middle of reoccurring chaos is millions of ordinary Iraqis attempting to bring back some normalcy to their everyday lives.