Baghdad’s border badlands: Why the Iraqi capital can never truly be secure

Mustafa Habib writes: While Baghdad is still the venue for many suicide bombers and car bombs, it is the capital city’s borders that present one of the greatest security problems for locals – and the problem in the so-called “Baghdad belt” looks to be getting worse.

In Yusufiyah, an area on the southern outskirts of the city, Sheikh Othman al-Janabi and his nine-member family have been resisting leaving and have just been dealing with the increasing insecurity here.

Over the past two weeks though that has changed. Two of al-Janabi’s children were killed – one in fighting in the area and one in a roadside bomb. Then al-Janabi’s wife also died. “Now I can no longer plant my farm but I am still refusing to leave our house – I built it with my own hands,” al-Janabi said. “I will not leave my childhood home.”

Karim al-Mashadani lives in Tarimiyah, on the other side of Baghdad but he is dealing with the same kinds of problems as the al-Janabi family.

“The security forces don’t trust the population,” al-Mashadani, a professor who has been living in the area for over two decades, told NIQASH. “They think they are all terrorists because the terrorists are in hiding, on the farms in the area. The terrorists are continuously attacking the security forces but it is the ordinary people around here who pay for their crimes.”

Just like Yusufiyah, Tarimiyah is located on the outskirts of Baghdad. Along with Latifiyah, Madaen and Arab Jabour in the south, Abu Ghraib in the west and Mushahada and Taji to the north, these areas make up what’s known as the Baghdad belt. In the past, these more rural areas provided shelter to the extremist organisation, Al Qaeda in Iraq. Now the same areas are being used by the new incarnation of the latter, the Islamic State group. [Continue reading…]

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