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Iraq – A Zone of Peace?

August 11, 2009

What I wrote last evening has left me just a bit jaded and not in the best of spirits. How can a people, a nation live in constant fear? What kind of life has it been for the Iraqi’s over the years? Look at the last three decades. In 1980 started the Persian War – the war between Khomeini’s Iran and Saddam’s Iraq. It went on for almost nine years. It ended in 1988. Kids less than 13 years of age were sent to the front from both the sides. Come 1992’s and America started Operation Desert Storm. It was not a war but carnage! Iraqi’s were butchered. The ultra modern aircrafts and weaponry of the Americans was like a sledgehammer blow on a hapless people. Huge quantities of toxic ammunition were dumped on a nation which had no enmity with Washington. The American’s were trying out many of their weapon systems during this war. I do not know whether they realized that these agents of death were actually hitting people on the ground.

Then they threw in an economic embargo on Iraq. They had what was called oil for food program. The west wanted the oil and they would give food in return. The embargo had such a debilitating effect on the common Iraqi as only they can understand. Basic medicines were unavailable. Trade had all but stopped leading to poverty and unemployment among the Iraqi’s. It was a callous international community that imposed such an economic isolation on a people. Kids died due to lack of food and medicines. Things of daily use were hard to find. Iraqi’s suffered in silence, for there was no one they could reach out to.

The attack on the World Trade Centre was an opportunity for the wolves to go for the kill. They had found the excuse they had been looking for all these years. They had wanted to enter Iraq and this was as good an opportunity as any. The western nations ganged up to invade Iraq. They had found a ruse –they were going to invade Iraq as they wanted to fight the al-Quaedaand disarm the rogue Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction. Another war was on the horizon. The artillery was in place as were the planes, the battle ships and the aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. Another annihilation followed but the difference this time was that western forces did not stop at pummeling the Iraqi’s but entered Iraq and took over Baghdad. The lies and half truths followed. Thousands of Iraqi’s were again butchered and lethal ammunition dumped from the sky. They tried very hard to find the so called weapons of mass destruction but could never find any because there were none. They tried to fight the al-Quaeda but there were no terrorists because Iraqi’s are no terrorists. Who do they fight – the men, women and children who have nothing to do with war and their only wish is to live in peace. The western forces shamelessly stayed on even after they had to admit that they could not find any weapons of mass destruction. There is perhaps no Iraqi family that has not lost someone in the wars over past decades. Iraqi’s have been scarred.

The Iraqi’s are a proud people. They saw a foreign force take over and they started fighting with crude home made weapons that can be very lethal at times. Homemade bombs and  IED’s were used to good effect to inflict heavy casualty on the foreigners who would not think twice before entering their houses on the pretext of making a security check. The Iraqi’s felt intruded upon not only as a nation but also as a people. They fought on and inflicted some stunning blows on the intruders. Almost six thousand allied soldiers were killed in the insurgency that resulted from occupation by the foreign forces. Word went out that Iraq was a hostile place and it was not safe for men and women in uniform from the various western nations. The body bags that arrived in the cities of the US, UK and other countries in Europe convinced people in the west that it was fool hardy to remain in Iraq. Another election in the US was around the corner and the guy who promised to get the kids back home won in a landslide.

The west has been irresponsible and selfish all along. This selfishness does not end with the withdrawal of the western troops. They do not care a bit about what they are leaving behind. They have made up their minds to get out of the land that they find unmanageable now and they do not give a damn as to what happens to the people there. There is going to be a sectarian violence that can only be termed as a civil war once the western troops withdraw completely, and they know it. Do they care? No. Period!  They have usurped a land, annihilated a population and they do not give a damn as to what they are leaving behind. Humans as a race can do better than that. We call ourselves civilized but in the case of Iraq we have all behaved very irresponsibly. I am talking about not only those that entered Iraq but also all those nations that kept quiet and let all those atrocities inflicted on a people. It is true that at the end of the day it is all about oil. One would have believed that oil would have been a boon for people in Iraq but the reality is that an ordinary Iraqi is poor and lacks basic necessities of life. It is the oil companies that have benefited. The people who own this natural resource have remained poor. Not only that, they have been punished for having had the one natural resource that is so precious in today’s world.  The west unashamedly declared that oil was a ‘strategic resource’ and they would do all they can in their power to get what is so critical. If that means killing innocent men, women and children, then so be it.

Many people call Bush, Blair, Cheney and others war criminals and what have you. I will not go to that extent. They did what they did because we let them do it. The international community remained a silent spectator to the carnage. I agree that there were protests across the world against the war but they were not loud enough and vociferous enough that it would stop those who had made up their minds to enter another nation. We all, I mean all the citizens of this planet are a party to this injustice that was meted out to a people and a nation. The bad news is that the instability is only going to exacerbate now that the west has decided to withdraw in haste. Do we not have a responsibility as human beings to ensure that there is peace and tranquility in this strife torn nation – a nation that has not seen normalcy in the last three decades?

Can we as human beings do something? Running away from Iraq is going to lead to more strife and instability in the region. Can the UN decide to declare Iraq a ‘zone of peace’? For any such initiative to succeed there will be a need for active cooperation between not only the US, Europe but also from Russia and China. Cannot all the major nations of this world decide that we are going to make Iraq a model state – a state that has no arms and no army – a nation that will be encouraged to develop democratic institutions under the watchful eyes of the United Nations. The United Nations could then form a committee of eminent personalities from various fields, and not just from political leadership to oversee the affairs of Iraq. Can there be a truly global force manning the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Arbil and others? How would it be if there is an intermingling of American, Russian, Chinese, British, French, Australian, Brazilian and Indian peace keepers with just batons manning the streets of Iraqi cities, a coming together of all the nations of the world to make sure there is peace and prosperity in this strife torn region. If peacekeepers from all these nations were to come together one can be sure that no militia will ever think of entering Iraq to create mayhem. Let us not kid ourselves – it has been the ‘other’ nations that have had a finger in the Iraqi pie. There has been a proxy war going on. Can we just be honest for once?

The Iraqi oil is there for the world. But it is the Iraqi’s who have the first right to it. The Iraqi’s should be allowed to  decide the terms and conditions at which they would allow the various nations to bid for the oil concessions. But then all oil companies from across the world should be given a chance to make a bid for these concessions. That includes the Russians and the Chinese and Malaysians and Indians. If all of us are coming together for the welfare of Iraq then everyone must have an equal chance to bid for exploration rights.

Let Iraq be a zone of peace, where education is free and compulsory, not only till the primary level but even for higher studies. Free health care, paid for by the state. All Iraqis should be given houses with proper sanitation, wide roads, parks and gardens. Can we make a Babylon of yore in the Iraq of today? Let Iraq be a model state. But the Babylon will be every Iraqi city. These people have suffered a lot. Initially the world community may have to dig into their pocket for the development of Iraq, but then with the kind of oil revenues that Iraqi’s are going to earn they should be able to afford all this and more very easily.

I know this is a dream – a land of milk and honey. But how can we make this happen if we do not start thinking this way. It will be very irresponsible of the US were they to withdraw without a plan in place. What if the plan is to turn Iraq into a model state – a state that other nations of the region would envy? It will take time to build institutions but if we put our minds to it, this should not be impossible. Iraq could be a moderate Islamic state with educated people who can rub shoulders with the best of the best –  a state that other Islamic nations would look up to and possibly try and emulate. This could be one real way of fighting Islamic radicalism. It could well be that other states of the region may demand that they too be declared ‘zones of peace’.

I see the leadership around the globe and find that if anyone can do this it is the leadership of the top nations of today – men and women like Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Medvedev, Sarkozy, Hu Jintao, Kevin Rudd, Angela Merkel, Manmohan Singh and others. These are all sensitive people who, if they put their minds to it can achieve what others may call impossible. These statesmen will have to think and act like real men and women and not try the one-upmanship – that childish urge to compete against one another – trying to protect their own ‘strategic interests’ that is really an excuse to hurt each other. Can we expect these exalted personalities to put their minds and their experience to good use and do something out of the box – something that few can imagine possible. Can they spring a surprise on humanity? Surprise us, your Excellency’s!!!

Update 20th of August, 2009:At least two people have been killed in a bicycle bombing in Baghdad, a day after a series of bombings left 101 people dead and 500 more wounded in the Iraqi capital. Police and medical officials said at least 10 people were injured in Thursday’s bombing, when an explosive attached to a bicycle went off in a market near the commercial Al-Rasheed street.

The blast followed the deadliest day of bombings in Iraq in more than a year when a string of explosions, including two lorry bombs, detonated near the government and diplomatic “Green Zone” in central Baghdad on Wednesday. Witnesses said appeared to target the foreign ministry and the finance ministry. Television footage showed that the force of the explosions had blown out some of the windows of Iraq’s parliamentary building.” Source: Aljazeera English

Update 8.12.2009: The latest attack in Iraq has been reported by the BBC thus:

The first attack targeted a police patrol in the Dora district of Baghdad, and then three car bombs blew up near government sites. At least 127 people have been killed, and 448 have been injured. TheAssociated Press notes it was the third time since August that insurgents have attacked government buildings, showing their ability to strike at the heart of Iraq’s capital. Previously, two car bombs killed at least 155 people when they exploded outside two government buildings in late October. There are widespread worries that violence will increase as national elections, which will probably be held in late February, draw near. Although violence has generally declined, it would be a mistake to think that insurgents are carrying out only occasional massive attacks. There are frequent attacks that are much smaller and don’t generally make the news, such as Monday’s school bombing that killed eight people in Baghdad.

The situation in Iraq is not sanguine at all. The country might just blow up once the western forces withdraw. There is going to be a free for all. The West has a problem on their hands. I hope they do not run off from the situation. It may spell disaster. Iraq needs a long hard look.

One Comment leave one →
  1. joeland7 permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:20 pm

    Error may endure for a season but truth shall prevail because is eternal and universal.

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