Reuters reports: As U.S.-led offensives drive back Islamic State in Iraq, concern is growing among U.S. and U.N. officials that efforts to stabilize liberated areas are lagging, creating conditions that could help the militants endure as an underground network.
One major worry: not enough money is being committed to rebuild the devastated provincial capital of Ramadi and other towns, let alone Islamic State-held Mosul, the ultimate target in Iraq of the U.S.-led campaign.
Lise Grande, the No. 2 U.N. official in Iraq, told Reuters that the United Nations is urgently seeking $400 million from Washington and its allies for a new fund to bolster reconstruction in cities like Ramadi, which suffered vast damage when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces recaptured it in December.
“We worry that if we don’t move in this direction, and move quickly, the progress being made against ISIL may be undermined or lost,” Grande said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
Adding to the difficulty of stabilizing freed areas are Iraq’s unrelenting political infighting, corruption, a growing fiscal crisis and the Shiite Muslim-led government’s fitful efforts to reconcile with aggrieved minority Sunnis, the bedrock of Islamic State support. [Continue reading…]