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Iraq’s Moment of Celebration Is One of Deeper Risk, Too

He continued: “We are not the reason Iraq is falling apart. I think Iraq is a fabricated state. It was built on the wrong foundations.”

And then there is Syria. The civil war across the border, as much as the sectarian policies of the former prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, helped the Islamic State regenerate in Iraq after its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, was largely eradicated. The group was able to expand into Syria before sweeping across the border in 2014 and taking Mosul.

Without peace in Syria, officials say, there is little chance for peace and stability in Iraq.

“Syria and Iraq are closely connected,” Mr. Maliki said in an interview this year. “If the situation in Syria is unstable, Iraq will be unstable.”

When asked about the future of Iraq after the Islamic State, Mr. Maliki said: “The state cannot control the situation. The coming phase will be bad.”

With the larger questions hanging over the country, the immediate challenge of stabilizing Mosul is monumental, especially in the city’s west side. The fight has essentially turned the city into two, divided by the Tigris River. The west is a gray, dusty wasteland of flattened buildings and upturned, charred trucks; even the windows of the cars civilians are driving have been blown out. Cross the bridge, though, and suddenly the world emerges in light and color, with shops and restaurants open, and loud traffic jams.

Fighting continued on Monday in a small patch of the old city, and security forces there rescued two more girls from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority who had been held as sex slaves. The United Nations, meanwhile, put out an urgent call for funding from other nations to help the nearly 700,000 civilians still displaced from the fighting.

All day long on Monday, Iraqi state television played patriotic songs in honor of the security forces, and later in the evening, a news flash alerted that Mr. Abadi would make a “historic” speech, surrounded by soldiers. The prime minister, once again, declared victory in Mosul, saying, “Iraq is now more united than ever,” and he declared Tuesday a national holiday of celebration.

In the skies over Mosul, Iraqi airplanes dropped three million leaflets on a city where many of the residents are no longer there.

Each leaflet showed a map of Mosul in the colors of the Iraqi flag — red, white and black — with the message: “Mosul has been returned to the bosom of Iraq.”

Source: NYT > World

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