After ISIS: Economic Impacts
By admin October 20, 2017

This week the Islamic State was ousted from Raqqa, which had served as the de-facto capital of the militants self- declared caliphate. Though this week’s military victory is one in a series in which US backed Kurdish army and other forces retook territory held by the militant group many of the cites are destroyed, forcing the question of how these areas will be able rebuild amidst further political turmoil. Further, though the caliphate has been destroyed, ISIS forces remain underground and there are new threats that arise form a subdued but not destroyed militant group.

Raqqa was home to 300,000 prior to the militants gaining control of the city in 2014. Thousands fled once ISIS came to power in the area and established the region as their de-facto capital in which public executions were used to punish those who break the militants group imposition of an extremely sever interpretation of Islam. Three years after the group had come to power in the region only 25,000 residents remained in the area. Drone strikes led in coalition by the US and Syrian government have killed 1,000 civilians according to activists, though the US government estimates the toll to be far lower. American led air-strikes devastated the region knocking out electricity and well as water. Americans officials have promised that they will help with the efforts to rebuild which will require building infrastructure to enable the return of basic services.

The triumph and rebuilding of the city of Mosul serves as an example of the hardship that will follow the victory. In the eastern portion of Mosul most residents have returned to their homes while the western region, where ISIS soldiers retained control until the end, remains uninhabitable. Beyond historic and cultural buildings that were destroyed, the basic infrastructure of western Mosul is decimated. The UN reports that the cost of restoring basic services will likely be more than 1 billion USD. The UN refugee agency said that this was a problem for the huge number of displaced refugees who cannot return to these areas if they lack basic structures to provide necessities. Furthermore, in the absence of power there is a question of whether rival groups will clash when they return to areas in such upheaval. Rebuilding efforts require that roads and sewer systems are completely rebuilt. This will require a larger, concerted and unified effort which may be hard in an area without an already existing power structure. The United Nations funding facility for rehabilitation has agreed to build 300, 000 homes.

In Kabana Syria, the devastation was effected mostly by drone strikes. Thought the strikes were effective in deterring ISIS forces from establishing a stronghold in the area the strikes caused 80 percent of building to be destroyed. Three years later the effort to rebuild is ongoing led by the Kurdish force absent of any Syrian government intervention.  Without basic infrastructure it is unclear how Syria can move forward economically. Trade between regions is faltering as there is no necessary central political authority. Whether economic revival is the necessary step to help the area revive is also a question of concern. Further tension is already brewing as competing US back Kurdish forces and Arab forces fought together to regain control of the area. Following the capture of the region, American backed Kurdish militia raised a flag of victory with the face of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan. Arab forces who had only recently defeated ISIS alongside the Kurdish forces believe Mr. Ocalan to be a terrorist. In Raqqa efforts to rebuild a pluralist democratic state may be further thwarted by President Bashar Al Assad who controls most of the territory. Assad is backed my Iran and Russia and has vowed to recapture all of Syria. The question is how long after the removal of ISIS will the US provide backing in the defense of Raqqa against the Assad regime.

Future Reading:

This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like

From Playground to Killing Ground: An ISIS Legacy

Raqqa, ISIS ‘Capital,’ Is Captured, U.S.-Backed Forces Say

As ISIS’ Role in Syria Wanes, Other Conflicts Take the Stage

Thanks for sharing !

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