My Iraqi relatives recently returned to their homes in Mosul. As expected, the furniture was destroyed, filth was everywhere, the doors from every room had been taken down and used as firewood, and even the toilets were pulled out of the walls (we are told that Islamic State militants prefer to do their business in a hole in the ground because they don’t like Western-style toilets). After seeing the state of their homes, my family members have decided to clean up, sell the houses, and move out of Mosul for good.
The city is in ruins. But I’m not worried about Mosul. Mosul – as with its still older incarnation, Nineveh – has been besieged, destroyed, and rebuilt over and again. It lies in the heart of the cradle of civilization, and for more than three millennia it has been a significant city in the region. For most of history it was a destination point in the old trade routes, and was much coveted. The city has been passed from king to pasha to sultan. Everyone has had Mosul – the old, middle, and neo-Assyrian and Babylonian empires, Medes, Persians, Macedonians, Seleucids, Parthian, Sasanian, Arabs, Turks, British – and finally it was given to the Arabs of Iraq in 1926. The city was taken by ISIS in June 2014.
On Monday, July 10, 2017, Iraq declared victory against ISIS in the fight to reclaim Mosul.
Recovering from this kind of devastation requires more than money. It takes a strong will and a stout heart to rebuild a city. Many do not have the stomach for it, especially the Christians, who because of persecution (even before ISIS) have been made to believe that this is not their city.
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