"Today, everyone can enjoy the open air in the gardens and parks of the city which are located on the banks of the Tigris River." Citizens of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, say that their city is finally seeing stability and peace after facing years of violence and pain.
A year and a half after ISIS was defeated in Iraq, the capital of the country, Baghdad, is finally experiencing a period of stability that it hasn’t seen since the US invasion in 2003. While much is expected from the new government led by Adil Abd al-Mahdi, the small changes that the PM enacted, such as the removal of blast walls and several checkpoints around Baghdad, have helped citizens feel like their city is returning to normalcy.
While the memories of the past continue to haunt many of the residents who witnessed all kinds of pain due to the bombs and assassinations that plagued the capital, Iraqi security officials say that they no longer need to fear the return of instability.
“Stability has increased I assure citizens and tell them to forget the bad and painful memories,” said a lieutenant general in the Iraqi army. “We are witnessing stability, which will improve day by day.”
During the height of the instability in Baghdad, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to ISIS, along with other militant groups detonated car bombs and other explosives throughout the capital to target civilians and strike fear into the people.
“There was an explosion while I was at work. I have not removed this scar and kept it to be a memory for me, my parents, and my children,” said a woman from Baghdad. “When my children grow up, I will tell them about the time in which we lived.”
When talking to the residents of Baghdad, everyone has a story about the violence that they have witnessed. Amongst the most significant attacks that ISIS conducted against Baghdad took place in 2016, when the militant group detonated a car bomb in Karradah, one of Baghdad’s most prominent shopping districts, resulting in the death of over 350 civilians. For months after the bombings, civilians were afraid to return to the district due to the fear of being targeted by the militant group once again.
However, as the security around the capital tightened, and with the defeat of ISIS across the country, the number of explosives coming in decreased, resulting in fewer bombings. This has made Baghdad’s residents feel like their city is finally returning to normalcy, allowing them to take out their children to parks and shops around the capital without fear.