“Soccer returns to liberated Mosul, Iraqi ambassador says”

“Soccer returns to liberated Mosul, Iraqi ambassador says”

The Washington Times
The Difficult Road Ahead: Stabilizing Iraq and the Gulf Region

20 Apr 2017

The Washington Times reports // Emphasizing a bright spot in Iraq’s bloody three-year war against the Islamic State, a neighborhood in Mosul liberated from the Islamic extremists hosted a soccer tournament earlier this week, Iraq’s Ambassador to the U.S. said Wednesday.

“If you know Iraq well, you know [football] is really big deal.” Fareed Yasseen told a panel on Iraqi peace and stability hosted by the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think thank.

In June 2014, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, first seized Mosul, the northern Iraqi city which has seen its population of almost 2 million drop to roughly 600,000 as a result of conflict.

The current effort to retake the city, which has raged since October, includes the largest deployment of Iraqi troops since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Allies supporting Iraqi troops in the battle include the U.S. and multiple Gulf Cooperation Council counties.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yasseen cited significant progress against the Islamic State by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

But he also highlighted that Iraq’s overall security situation still remains tenuous and requires a greater commitment than just military support, with investment in its economy, education and infrastructure critical to achieving a durable peace and stability.

“We need to diversify the economy,” he said. “Wining the peace is a long term goal. The first phase is to stabilize regions that are no longer ISIS. If you don’t do that you won’t have returnees.”


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