Old Mosul has been completely shattered in the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants
About 900,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Mosul, and many neighborhoods have been completely destroyed by war
Areas around the village are slowly being re-populated, but many places are entirely without services like trash collection, electricity, and running water
Mosul, September 5, 2017 : “All you can hear at night is the sound of broken doors flapping in the wind,” says Abd Elaam, a 50-year-old furniture maker. “Even soldiers stay indoors after dark.”
Elaam is currently one of the very few civilians living in Old Mosul, an ancient neighborhood shattered by the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants. Like many families that survived IS rule, he says, his resources are completely exhausted by the war and he has nowhere else to go.
Other families trickle in by day, looking to repair their broken homes or recover the bodies of their dead loved ones. But even during daylight hours, the neighborhood is dangerous, riddled with bombs and an unknown number of militants hiding out in the vast network of tunnels under the tightly-packed buildings and piles of rubble. The level of destruction has been compared to World War II Dresden.
“A IS militant came out of one those houses two weeks ago,” Elaam says, gesturing towards another dusty, broken street. “He blew himself up near two families. They were all injured and the bomber was cut in half.”
The militant’s body, like other fallen IS fighters in Old Mosul, was shoved under the rubble to reduce the smell of rot in the 45 degree-plus weather. When Iraq declared victory over IS in early July, the bodies of dead militants lay scattered in buildings and on the streets of nearly every block. Authorities searched through giant piles of concrete, once homes, for the remains of civilian families. But, they said, the only government department responsible for the IS bodies was garbage collection.
Old Mosul is far from re-establishing city services like trash pickup. There is no running water, electricity or businesses open. Yet other families are following Elaam’s lead, and plan to return to their homes as soon as possible.
“In a few days I will move back and bring my family,” says Ghanem Younis, 72, resting on a beige plastic chair in a sliver of shade. “If they provide electricity and water, everyone would come back.”
Younger men and children squat around Ghanem, recalling the isolation of the final months of the battle that began late last year. “We couldn’t go more than 50 meters from our front doors,” says Sufian, a 27-year-old unemployed construction worker. “We spent our time sitting right here with Uncle Ghanem.”
But it is not sentiment driving some families home despite the dangers, adds Elaam, as more neighbors join the conversation.
“People cannot stay with friends and relatives forever,” he says. Camps for those displaced are also crowded. “No one has anywhere else to go,” he adds.
A few blocks away, outside the checkpoints that cut off the Old City, the Zanjelli neighborhood is slowly being repopulated.
Construction workers build a market to replace one destroyed in airstrikes, while the owners of what was once a shoe store paint the shelves, hoping to re-open in the coming weeks. The wreckage from a few of the destroyed homes has been cleared away, and the bodies of many of the dead are now buried in graveyards.
In less than five minutes of conversation, at least three people tell us about family members, including toddlers, killed in airstrikes in the last months of battle.
“There was an IS sniper firing from next to my house and the airstrike hit us,” says Youseff Hussain, 35. “Fifteen members of my family were killed.”
Rebuilding the neighborhood, adds Hussain, is made doubly frustrating by the fact that it was Iraq’s allies, including the United States, who destroyed many of their homes as they battled IS from the air.
Many locals say the sacrifice of property and lives may have been necessary to prevent the city, then under siege, from total starvation. But after bearing the brunt of the war with IS, largely considered a global threat, residents say they thought the international community or the government would help them rebuild.
The only aid families here get right now, Zanjelli residents say, is Iraqi military rations, as soldiers share their food.
“There is nothing they can do to pay us back for what we have lost,” says Hussain. “But shouldn’t we at least get refunded for our property?” (VOA)
Large number of live bombs and munitions continue to be found in Germany even 70 years after the end of World War II
Bomb experts successfully defused a 1.4 ton British bomb in Germany
Largest evacuation carried out in Germany since the end of World War II
Frankfurt, September 4, 2017 : German bomb experts successfully defused a massive World War II bomb in the financial capital of Frankfurt on Sunday after nearly 65,000 people were evacuated to safety.
The 1.4 ton British bomb was found at a construction site last week.
Police on Sunday cordoned off a 1.5 kilometer radius around the bomb, leading to the largest evacuation in Germany since the end of World War II.
Helicopters with heat seeking devices scoured the area before the bomb experts began their work.
Among the evacuees were more than 100 patients from two hospitals, including people in intensive-care.
Experts had warned that if the bomb exploded, it would be powerful enough to flatten a whole street.
More than 2,000 tons of live bombs and munitions are discovered each year in Germany, more than 70 years after the end of the war. British and American warplanes pummeled the country with 1.5 million tons of bombs that killed 600,000 people.
German officials estimate that 15 percent of the bombs failed to explode. (VOA)
We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America
The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw
We have been paying Pakistan billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting
Virginia, USA, August 23, 2017: US President Donald Trump in his speech at Arlington, Virginia on August 21, 2017, divulged details on his new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. He made it clear in his speech that American troops will continue to fight the war between US and Afghanistan, the longest war in US history which has been continuing for 17 years.
Trump made it a point to announce that he’s not just rearranging the Afghanistan policy. He also spoke against Pakistan and criticized them for harboring the terrorists and said that the US would want India’s help and contribution to restore the stability of Afghanistan.
Trump said, “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.”
Trump listed out the factors that would lead to a change in Afghanistan and South Asia policy in the coming years:
Donald Trump criticized Barack Obama
Trump, many times during his presidential campaign has criticized former US President Barack Obama “for announcing a date by which American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan.” He said that it allowed Taliban and others like them to reassemble and lay waiting for them to do so.
The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw. Though it seems like a wise decision, it also means that the US troops are likely to be in Afghanistan for few more years, by taking into consideration how long this war has continued. The US President stressed upon, “A shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.”
America will focus on their interests first, Donald Trump said, “The integration of all instruments of American power – diplomatic, economic, and military – toward a successful outcome.” Trump said that America has spent a lot of time, money and soldier’s lives to try and rebuild countries in its own image. He expressed that a future political solution in Afghanistan might even include the Taliban, but it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take that decision. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said.
Trump said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat.” Trump made some strong remarks about Pakistan, a country that has apparently been an American ally for decades, but was also often accused of taking funds from USA and using them to “take part in an arms race with India”, instead of using that money to fight the terror organizations which were often nurtured by them. Trump said, “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”
On wanting cooperation from India
Donald Trump then talked about India and said: “Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India – the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
Trump called for India’s helping hand- He wants India to play a much larger role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, particularly in the areas like development and economic assistance. This came as positive news to New Delhi, and the Ministry of External Affairs was ready to welcome the statement with open arms. The spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs said “We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists. India shares these concerns and objectives.”
But Donald Trump’s framing of the issue has a problem in it – this seems transactional (like a business deal) and the narrative put forward by the US President saying that Afghan reconstruction is mainly an American effort only. Trump said, “But India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States,” he said this as if he wants to say that this should be the reason due to which New Delhi should do what Washington asks from it. Though India’s trade relations with the US shouldn’t be the reason for which India would take a bigger role in Afghanistan reconstruction. Instead, it is because of India’s personal interests in wanting to see Afghanistan as a stable, peaceful and terror-free region which leads it to move in the direction of forming a partnership with Kabul. Journalist Bobby Ghosh said, “One of the strengths of India’s involvement in Afghanistan is that it is seen unambiguously as Indian involvement.”
The real hindrance to a much larger involvement of India in Afghanistan is the danger of Pakistan taking revenge and they have been more than willing to use their weapons of terror against India in the past. This is where Trump’s strict stand on Pakistan is welcome and much needed.hat we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.
What we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.
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