20 Mar 2006

Third Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

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Two prominent Iraqi bloggers respond very differently to the anniversary. The anti-US Riverbend at Baghdad Burning has nothing positive to say:

It has been three years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq’s independence. Three years of occupation and bloodshed.

Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. We’re doing it again this year but now we don’t discuss what we’re stocking up for. Bombs and B-52’s are so much easier to face than other possibilities.

I don’t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I’m so tired of it all- we’re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots….

..Three years after the war, and we’ve managed to move backwards in a visible way, and in a not so visible way.

In the last weeks alone, thousands have died in senseless violence and the American and Iraqi army bomb Samarra as I write this. The sad thing isn’t the air raid, which is one of hundreds of air raids we’ve seen in three years- it’s the resignation in the people. They sit in their homes in Samarra because there’s no where to go. Before, we’d get refugees in Baghdad and surrounding areas… Now, Baghdadis themselves are looking for ways out of the city… out of the country. The typical Iraqi dream has become to find some safe haven abroad.

Three years later and the nightmares of bombings and of shock and awe have evolved into another sort of nightmare. The difference between now and then was that three years ago, we were still worrying about material things- possessions, houses, cars, electricity, water, fuel… It’s difficult to define what worries us most now. Even the most cynical war critics couldn’t imagine the country being this bad three years after the war… Allah yistur min il rab3a (God protect us from the fourth year).

But the pro-US Mohammed at Iraq the Model is far more hopeful:

Maybe people still remember how Iraqis first reacted to the change; they directed their rage against anything that reminded them of the regime they hated, burning and looting anything that represented Saddam and his regime. The rich and the poor both stormed those buildings because those angry crowds felt those buildings were Saddam’s property and few of us realized at that time that that was wrong yet the emotions driving it were understandable.

The smoke faded away and we woke up to see all the chains gone and instead of the God-president and his iron grip over our destinies, we found ourselves without a guide, without any guidance but our long buried primitive nature, the long repressed nature of loving freedom and practicing it.

The change began then, at that moment where reason mixed with sentiments; were we free…or, were we lost?

Actually it was a lot of both and there was also a sense of great relief that the terrifying warnings from hundreds of thousands of deaths, famine and mass refugees were not true at that point, on the contrary the military operation itself was clean and successful by all standards and didn’t cause any serious harm to the civilian population, the infrastructure, or the marching troops…

..Was it the right decision to remove Saddam?

I say yes, and that’s what most Iraqis said and still say even if they became divided over what happened later…the truth is that virtually no one wants Saddam back.

I will just ignore the weepers, whiners, teenagers and half educated naive people and their silly rallies as I don’t want to waste time on people who can do nothing but blindly oppose everything without thinking.

I will ignore them and focus on the more important goals we want to reach here…

Life stopped and time stopped when Saddam ruled Iraq, actually that totalitarian regime was moving backwards and dragging us with it and nothing could stop the deterioration that began the moment Saddam came to power.

We had to accept the change and live with all that would come along with it whether good or bad.

The democracy we’re practicing today in Iraq is the exact opposite of what we had for decades and until three years ago. This democracy carries the essence of life, the differences, the dynamics and yes, the failures but also the seed of a better future.

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