The level of contamination is unprecedented in Iraq: there are explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices in fields, homes, sometimes inside corpses, or behind refrigerator doors. Our weapons clearance experts have already destroyed more than one thousand explosive remnants of war in just a few weeks.
People are trying hard to rebuild their lives. Schools are now open for registration and local primary health care centers are slowly opening up again. Some professionals who fled, such as teachers, doctors and nurses, have started to return. Although the local hospital in Hay el Sucar was largely destroyed, residents are adamant that it will re-open and a group of young locals are volunteering to clean it up, to get it running again.
The ruling by Donald Trump to place a temporary ban on Muslims from selected countries entering the USA has provoked global outrage. While a similar ban on students wanting to study in the UK seems (hopefully) inconceivable, when it comes to obtaining entry visas bona fide students and staff from Muslim countries can face an uphill struggle.
The lesson to be learnt from Syria, we are told, is that this appalling tragedy is the kind of thing that happens when foreign powers turn their backs on tyranny and refuse to intervene. The lesson to be learnt from Iraq, on the other hand -- and Libya, and Yemen, come to that -- is that chaos, violence and human suffering on an unimaginable scale are what follow when foreign powers intervene.
"If you don't believe in any religion and don't fear the day of resurrection, at least be free and noble in this world." - These are the words of Imam Hussain, whose martyrdom inspired a movement in the pursuit of justice and freedom regardless of race, religion or creed. With the rise of fascism and fear of the other, now more than ever community cohesion matters.
Donald Trump, who may prove to be the most unprepared, uninformed president ever to enter office, shows no sign of having applied much thought to such questions and is inclined to shoot from the hip. Despite some conciliatory language since his victory, the rest of us can only hope he'd only be shooting metaphorically.