On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced total victory over ISIS ending more than three years of the terrorist group’s destructive reign in large parts of the country.
In the speech, Abadi said that it was Iraqis’ “right to show pride in this victory” and that this was achieved only by “your conscious selves, your unity and your costly sacrifices”.
Abadi further told his audience to “preserve your great victory, and hold onto your land and your unity,” adding that Iraq would “begin with God’s blessing a new day and a shared future that embarks upon security and safety for Iraq’s territory”.
The war against ISIS brings to an end a bloody period in Iraq’s recent history. When ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi strolled up the pulpit in Mosul’s Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in 2014 and declared the caliphate, emphasising the message his deputy Abu Mohammed al-Adnani had broadcasted a few days earlier, the world was shocked.
ISIS subsequently took over large parts of western and northern Iraq, killing those considered anathema to the group’s puritanical ideology, and displacing millions both inside and outside the country.
A little over three years later and the whole spectacle has changed. ISIS controls no territory in Iraq, and is subsequently facing a battle for its survival in neighbouring Syria.
As one Iraqi official said after liberation, defiant in his desire to prevent the group’s resurgence: “In the period after ISIS, with God’s help, we will remain with the same level of endeavour and determination. We will defend Iraq’s territory, we will defend the Iraqi people, and we will be brothers, helping all Iraqis with God’s help”.