Can Peace be Secured in Iraq?

By Mustafa Nader and Kate Roff

With the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, citizens and observers are asking: What will happen to Iraq after ISIS?

Iraqi's struggles don't end with ISIS, and while immediate aid for the people of Mosul has been crucial, there are long-term barriers to peace.

"Places like Mosul and Raqqa, populations have lived under ISIS control for three years in some instances, there are reals concerns about who constitutes an ISIS sympathizer, or not, and how are these people going to be treated,” Mona Yacoubian, USIP Senior Policy Scholar, told Peace News Network.

“So I think there are real, legitimate concerns, about tensions not only between various sectarian communities, but even within the Sunni community,” Ms Yacoubian said.

"There I think local-level reconciliation efforts is going to be essential, and some sense of understanding that people were living under ISIS not by choice in most instances," she said.

"We need to think really creatively about how to ensure families are integrated back into the social fabric of their community."

What could help build peace?

Dr Elie Abouaoun, USIP Middle East and North Africa Director, said peacebuilding in places like Mosul has many layers.

"I think that the immediate - short term - concern is to prevent revenge operations against some civilians, or some groups, tribes etc. and the second one is to work on de-confliction mechanisms for local conflicts,” Dr Abouaoun said.

"Now, think on a longer term, we mentioned the issues of the barriers to return, so 'what would prevent IDPs from returning?', and this takes us into the reconstruction aspects, the security aspects, and the governance model,” he said.

"So these are the main aspects that peace-building [initiatives] need to be thinking about, in the case of Mosul - but also in other places in Iraq."

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