A new life sprouts up around Mosul after scars of Daesh rule

Children play in a debris-strewn alleyway in Mosul. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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A new life sprouts up around Mosul after scars of Daesh rule

MOSUL: Even before Daesh took over her home city of Mosul, Iraqi 31-year-old Nesrine never imagined she would have a job working late into the evening at a fashion boutique.
But now, in districts of Iraq’s second city not left totally devastated by the ferocious fighting to oust the terrorists, life is buzzing again — with more vibrancy than ever.
“We have experienced depression, hunger, ruin and oppression. It is a miracle that we are still alive,” Nesrine told AFP.
“We went through a long nightmare and now we have woken up transformed.”
Nesrine is employed at a gleaming new clothing shop that has opened up on the east bank of the river Tigris — liberated from Daesh months before the group’s final defeat in western districts six months ago — selling skinny jeans and colorful tops from Turkey.
As pop music blares from loudspeakers, she works alongside male colleagues advising customers lured in during a late-evening stroll by images of fashion models.
In the shop window, a mannequin wearing an above-the-knee skirt is on display.
Mosul has long had a reputation as the bedrock of conservatism and became a hub for radical terrorists after the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
But when Daesh seized control as it swept across northern Iraq in 2014 the group imposed a radical interpretation of Islamic law far more severe than anything residents had known before.

“If a boy and a girl were discovered together then they risked being executed,” said Rahma, 21.
Now Mosul University where she studies English is busy with groups of boys with gelled up hair and girls wearing colorful headscarves.
Even before the arrival of Daesh it was “unimaginable” for girls to get a job outside the home working alongside men, unless it was in a staid public administration office, she said.
Ziad Dabbagh has just opened up a restaurant to give people somewhere else to go in the commercial neighborhood of Al-Zuhur.
“People in Mosul used to go to other provinces of Iraq to go out,” the entrepreneur said.
Families dine and young men sip tea on the terraces and in the dining hall.
“It was as if we were lost in the middle of a desert, cut off from everything,” said Roua Al-Malah, 34, who was out with her family.
“And now all at once we have rediscovered that we can have a good time.”
Behind a green glass door, men sip brightly colored fruit juice in the neighboring building as they play cards and billiards amid a cloud of smoke from hookah pipes.
Owner Mazen Aziz opened up in May even as fierce fighting was still raging across the river in Mosul’s Old City, which is still a deserted ghost town today.
His billiard club with its smoking, card playing and loud music would have been a prime target for the terrorists who dominated the city for a decade.
“For years in Mosul, after six in the evening, there was no one in the streets. Now I can head home at 2 or 3 in the morning without fear,” he said.
“A new life is beginning.”


Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

Updated 23 September 2018
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Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

  • Israel’s supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead
  • ‘No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force’

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the end of the month to leave.
The fate of Khan Al-Ahmar has drawn international concern, with European countries calling on Israel not to move ahead with plans to demolish it.
Israel’s supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead.
Israel says the village was built without the proper permits, though it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive such permission in that part of the West Bank.
The notice given to the some 200 residents of Khan Al-Ahmar on Sunday says they have until the end of the month to demolish the village themselves.
“Pursuant to a supreme court ruling, residents of Khan Al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018,” a statement from the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said.
It did not say what will happen if they refuse to do so. Village residents vowed not to leave despite the notice.
“No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force,” said village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis, adding that a residents’ meeting would be held later on the issue.
“If the Israeli army comes to demolish, it will only be by force.”
The village is located in a strategic spot east of Jerusalem, near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement building in the area would eventually divide the West Bank in two, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.
Israeli authorities have offered alternative sites for Khan Al-Ahmar residents, but villagers say the first was near a rubbish dump and the latest close to a sewage treatment plant.