As of the 17th November, ISIS no longer held any urban territory in Iraq after Iraqi forces liberated the town of Rawa. This was the culmination of weeks of steady gains by security forces in western Anbar, which was the last patch of territory still held by the extremist group. At the beginning of November, security forces took control of the key border town of al-Qaim, which the militant group used to transport supplies, fighters and weaponry from its territories in Syria to Iraq. Iraqi forces then proceeded north of the Euphrates River to take Rawa.
While patches of desert along the Syrian border and north of the Euphrates is still occupied by ISIS militants, after having fled their urban havens, Iraqi officials are keen to begin work on a post-ISIS order in Iraq. Despite these historic victories, Iraq still faces endemic problems that continue to stymie progress and development in the country.
Amongst the most detrimental issues is corruption, which has not only thwarted economic progress including the development of crucial infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals, it has also put the lives of Iraqi citizens at risk. A large factor contributing to Iraq’s deep security issues comes down to corruption within the security services and the Iraqi military. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi has pledged to focus his efforts in effectively tackling corruption.
The effects of war and ISIS rule is still evident in most of Iraq’s northern and western provinces. Infrastructure has been decimated, communities have been scarred and thousands of people remain displaced from the main urban areas in Anbar and Nineveh, including Mosul, Tal Afar, Ramadi and Fallujah.
It will likely take years along with concerted and sustained investment until the effects of war begin to wear off and for communities that once prospered in these areas. Reconciliation must take place at the community level.