This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Restoring Ramadi To A Semblance of Civility : Good Luck

"Listen, I am a son of this land. My house was destroyed by someone I know. He was my friend, my neighbour. In cases like this, you need to be able to provide people with something [government assistance in rebuilding]."
Brig.Gen.Muhammad Rasheed Salah, Anbar provincial police

"We will never kill our way out of the Daesh problem. We cannot bomb our way to peace here. The key to defeating this enemy and making it stick is the reconciliation and the stabilization process."
U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren

"We're doing the best with the money we have, but it's not enough. Anytime you have mass destruction like [in Ramadi], particularly if you have mass destruction of private houses and large-scale infrastructure, this is where the costs really start to add up."
Lise Grande, UN deputy special representative to Iraq

"The best way to secure any area and protect it against the return of Daesh is for the local residents and the local police to return to their areas and rebuild their lives."
"In order for residents to support local security [forces], they need to see them doing a good job."
"We have a long way to go [raising the required funding for rebuilding]."
Muhannad Haimour, spokesman, Governor of Anbar province, Iraq
Iraqi security forces clear houses of Islamic State fighters in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 km) west of Baghdad, Sunday. Ramadi, once home to 500,000 people, lies largely in ruins after months of air bombardment and the scorched-earth practices of Islamic State fighters in retreat. The U.S-led coalition acknowledges the importance of rebuilding, but actual money for the effort falls far short. | AP

This is the Iraqi version of a scorched-earth policy. By commission, not necessarily design on the part of the United States, while it does indeed reflect the sensitivities of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for any town, village, city or suburb they lose in their caliphate conflict against the infidels and the turncoats abetting them. The ferocity of the Islamic State determination to wreak horror and vengeance is of course matched in degree by Shiite militias backed by the Republic of Iran.

One can only wonder how swiftly Saddam Hussein would have gone about demolishing the kind of insurgency they represent.

But he is absent from the scene and in his stead we have the very forces that removed his ferocious control of dissent bombing the Islamist militias that arose when Saddam's Sunni generals were dismissed summarily and Iraq's Sunni tribal sect left to simmer with resentment when the Shiite majority took the ascendancy. The City of Ramadi, formerly home to a half-million people, was taken by Islamic State, then finally retaken by the Iraqi military, but not without the assistance of US.-led aerial bombing missions.

The bombs nicely levelled over three thousand buildings with over 60 percent of the provincial capital destroyed in equal measure by constant U.S. air bombardment and the retreating Islamic State fighters bombing whatever the air missions missed to leave a concrete-cratered desolation. Lip service is given as it always is under such circumstances viewing the fallout of destroyed civilization with dismay, that funding must be raised for reconstruction, even as operations are still ongoing in wresting north and east neighbourhoods from retreating ISIL.

Smoke rises during an air strike in Ramadi city, December 26, 2015. Picture taken December 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Stringer

While the city was being fought over, government buildings, bridges and highways took the massive brunt of heavy artillery and airstrikes. In the final assaults to retake Ramadi, airstrikes aimed to target residential areas since this is where the fighters for ISIL ensconced themselves when the city was overrun in May and the central government complex was destroyed. Civilian homes were used as ISIL bases and operations centres, with fighters living out of the barracks that homes were transformed into. Including Brig.Gen. Salah's home.

Officials estimate the cost of rebuilding in the hundreds of millions, and that seems fairly optimistic. The bulk of the funding won't come from the Government of Iraq suffering its own economic hardships due to the falling price of oil. The central government has shuffled responsibility to the provinces out of existing budget allocations which in turn requires provincial governors to beg, turban in hand, for international aid.  The United States itself which has spent $280 million each month on fighting ISIL, has pledged $15.9 million to stabilizing the situation. Won't that go far?

Bringing Ramadi back to a state of stability is critical, emphasized the governor's spokesman. Re-establishing the rule of law to convince citizens they may return in safety to view the ruinage of their city and their personal possessions will do little to bring stability back to the region. Without funding how can local security [forces] be seen to be doing a good job of ensuring the future? They do indeed have a long way to go.

Iraq Iraqi Security Forces Soldiers RamadiAP Photo/Osama Sami   Iraqi Security forces enter the heavy damaged downtown Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015.

As for putting an end to the tribal vengeance, the sectarian vendettas now that Ramadi is liberated from ISIL, that too looms as an even larger problem. Reconciliation? An end to sectarian hatred and viciousness? Good luck on that one. Anbar police general Salah has said tersely that there is no amount of funding from the government sufficient to prevent him from pursuing those he suspects to have been responsible for destroying his home.

"No matter what, I will have my revenge." Got that?

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