Monday, August 22, 2005

Gathering clouds in Iraq

Blogger Fayrouz, writing from Dallas, Texas, has been a cheerleader of what promised to be an emergent democracy in the middle of the Middle. She was almost giddy last December as the country was getting ready for elections.

In the late 90s, an Australian TV reporter traveled to Iraq and spent a week with an Iraqi family documenting their daily life. He did a great job showing the negative effect of the U.N. sanctions on the ordinary Iraqi people. The documentary ended with his Iraqi host taking him to an Iraqi wedding. The wedding guests were dancing and singing loudly. They looked like they owned the whole world. Most of us, who watched his documentary, would always remember his closing statement:

This nation will never die.

Why I'm telling this old story? Today, I watched a video of dancing Iraqi troops (Via Operation Truth) -- You need to setup your browser to open .WAV files with Windows Media Player. These are the new recruits of the new Iraqi army. They look full of energy and happiness. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it asserted the above statement in my head. Sad because of the continuous suicide bombing against the Iraqi people.

Don't try the link. It's no longer active. Something symbolic there. I recall watching it at the time. Festive dancing by a bunch of off-duty guys from the new Iraqi security force.
That was last December and a lot has happened since then.

Responding to a report in the Wa Po yesterday, she writes what reads like a requiem for her beloved country. The report spelled out in tedious detail how various militia groups, principally Kurdish, seem to be taking up where American forces and other adversaries leave off, controlling the country by force. This is a far cry from the representative democracy that idealistic people hoped for.

Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.

While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, the militias, and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them, are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said.

"I don't see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here," said Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Bethnahrain, which has offices in northern Iraq and has faced several death threats.
In the streets of Basra, a dreary, dun-hued port of 1.5 million people on the banks of the Shatt al Arab, the local police force of 13,600 has become as much an instrument of fear as security. Mohammed Musabah, the governor of Basra, acknowledged that the police were infiltrated by religious parties, the most powerful of which is the Supreme Council. His police chief, Hassan Sawadi, went further. He told the British newspaper the Guardian that he had lost control over three-quarters of his police force and that militiamen inside its ranks were using their posts to assassinate opponents. Soon after, Musabah said, the Interior Ministry ordered Sawadi not to speak again publicly.
The total number of prisoners is unknown. Sinjari declined to give figures. In June, the U.S. military said it had logged 180 cases in Kirkuk alone. Sunni Arab and Turkmen political leaders in the city estimated there were more than 500. Wisam al Saadi, deputy director of the Islamic Organization for Human Rights, said in the last two months 120 families from Mosul have lodged complaints but many more are afraid to come forward. Nawazad Qadir, a Kurd and the director of the Irbil branch of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, said hundreds of "extremist detainees" are being held in that city while still hundreds more are in the other Kurdish-run prisons.

The report is long and full of details. Probably just another made-up bunch of stuff from the librul-dominated mainstream media.

In the form of a letter to one of her commenters, Fayrouz has a hard time finding anything encouraging to say.
Our people, my friend, don't call themselves Iraqis any more. They call themselves, Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans and other names EXCEPT Iraqis. Do you see the soul of our problem? We don't belong to a unified nationality. We belong to a tribe, an ethnic group, a religious sector - NOT Iraq.When Saddam was removed from power, most of the international community thought this great nation of mostly educated and intellectual citizens would overcome their differences and put their hands together to build a democratic country. They were wrong in their assumption. The Iraqi people were tired of 35 years of a brutal ruling government, who oppressed minorities. We found ourselves drifting to the fractional identity instead of the unifying one.

Then came the governing council which, I believe, is the root of our political problems. The American administration thought it was a great idea to bring Hakim and his kind into the government. Why on earth did we remove a secular government to replace it with pro-Iran groups? What was the logic used in the selection of the governing council? Why couldn't they install more like Iyad Allawi and Adnan Al-Pachachi?

With the appointment of pro-Iran parties in the governing council, came the power of the militia. When a country doesn't have an army or a police force, gangs take control of the streets. You and me live in the United States. We see it in the poor parts of American cities where rape, drug abuse, murder and other crimes are the way of life.

Did I see this coming? Yes, I did. What I didn't see coming is the refusal of many Sunnis and other minorities to vote in the January election. Wasn't that great to hand over Iraq to the religious parties then cry over it?

There is more. I urge you to read it all.
She concludes with this sad overview. I cannot think of anything constructive or helpful to add, except to say that I think she may be right.
I have no doubt the ordinary American people want the best for Iraqi people. But, with 2006 senate elections and 2008 presidential elections not that far away, I'm expecting a quick exit from Iraq. Politicians from both sides, liberals and conservatives, have started to say, "They had elections. They'll have a constitution very soon. We did our best. We can't do any more." Not exactly in those words, but something along those lines.

Politicians follow the wind's direction. The wind has changed regarding Iraq. This war has resulted in too many deaths from both sides and the huge spending of the taxpayer money. All this would have gone well with the American voters. But, when that money and blood goes to establish an Iranian-style government and to strip Iraqi women from their rights, then the politicians lose the hearts and minds of their devoted voters.

We all failed Iraq. Iraqi people failed Iraq when they refused to unite for the sake of a bleeding land. The allied governments failed Iraq when they did a poor job in establishing a reasonable government, a poorer job in establishing law and order and gave a blind eye to the growing control of the militias in different parts of the country.

We all contributed to the dark future of Iraq because each of us had a different priority.

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