Time for U.S. to help sow seeds of lasting peace in Mosul

A boy walks along a damaged street in west Mosul on July 13, 2017, a few days after the government's announcement of the "liberation" of the embattled city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. /

A boy walks along a damaged street in west Mosul on July 13, 2017, a few days after the government’s announcement of the “liberation” of the embattled city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (Getty Images)
MARK ARABO

While the days of harmonic diversity have long past, it seems too as though the short-lived period of Islamic State rule is also gone. So now we are left with the uncertainty of a daunting future. We now confront the reality of a new chapter in Mosul, one where we are once again forced to decide: Do we stay or do we go?

 Approximately 30,000 Iraqi Christians living in San Diego at one point used to call Mosul home. Many of these San Diegans still have relatives living in the area. They know all too well of what happens when we abandon a country in the early stages of rebuilding. The last administration left Iraq with little institutional support, no armed military for defense and with a huge arsenal of weaponry that seemed to reek of impending disaster. We cannot make the same mistake that initially led to the downfall of Iraq. We must learn the lessons of our history in a country that, for better or worse, is intertwined with ours.

The Trump administration has assisted in the recapture of Mosul, but the job is far from finished. We need to be the ones who assist in the authorship of a new chapter for Mosul. We need to be the ones who aid the Iraqi government in fostering inclusivity, equality and diversity. It is the United States that must work to facilitate a new Mosul. Because, whether the American people like it or not, an age-old saying remains true throughout all countries, including Iraq: “You break it, you buy it.” And despite the murderous and dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein, most Iraqis would agree that even his cruel reign was better than life under the sword of Islamic State.

 Mosul in a sense is our grounds for redemption. The destruction of this once-great city leaves an open field ready for harvest. But like any open field, it cannot be simply ignored or deserted. We must work closely with the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to sow the seeds of lasting peace. This could be managed through a military presence, diplomacy or economic partnership. It is the responsibility of the United States to ensure that Iraq does not spiral downward like it did only a few short years ago. We cannot let the blood and sweat of American troops go in vain. We owe it to them.

Furthermore, we know firsthand of the consequences that come of turning a blind eye to the spread of extremist ideology in the region. A massive influx in cross-border refugee movement, greater regional instability and an enhanced threat of terrorism here in our own country are just a few repercussions. While we cannot rewrite the past, we can work toward putting in place conditions that ensure a brighter future for the people of Iraq and Mosul. We cannot be led into believing that the suffering of Iraq occurs in a vacuum. What happens in Iraq will most certainly have some bearing on our own lives in the U.S.

Perhaps like a phoenix, Mosul will rise again from the ashes. But the rebirth of what was once a great city can only be facilitated with intimate collaboration from Iraq, and, whether we like it or not — the United States of America.

Arabo, a San Diego resident, is president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-utbg-mosul-peace-iraq-20170713-story.html

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