Iraq today: too much of everything

Iraq today: too much of everything

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 19

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

There is always something good in every bad, and vise versa. This comes to mind if to recall Baghdad of 1990.

In the center of the city there was the 28 April street - the birth day of Saddam Hussein. On both sides of the street, every 5-6 meters, huge portraits of the dictator installed on tripods, painted by artists: Saddam on falconry, Saddam with children, Saddam in the office, etc.

And although he was certainly one of the bloodiest dictators the world has ever known, one still wonders, looking at what happened in the country after Saddam's departure and what is happening today – was deliverance from the dictator a really good thing for the Iraqi people?

I am so tempted to say yes, of course. But looking at the plight of millions of Iraqis today, looking at the endless explosions in markets and mosques that have claimed the lives of thousands of people, at the destroyed cities and infrastructure, I can't help but want to bite my tongue.

There are too many flammable spots in Iraq today. Touch any of them, and the streets will explode with raging protests, just like 10 days ago.

Furthermore, there are those who will begin to throw firewood into the burning embers to cause a big fire – Iraq is too important of a place on the map, too many interests collide around Iraqi oil, and too much hatred has accumulated in Iraqi society.

There is too much corruption in the country, which is devouring the Iraqi statehood. Everyone is talking about it, but no one remembers any recent high-profile trials.

There are too many centers of power, armed groups and tribal interests in the country, and everyone demands something for themselves.

I guess, there are "too many" refugees and IDPs for the Iraqi Government to help them all...

The latest unrest is the biggest one, and therefore it attracts attention. But before it, after the proclamation of victory in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) announced by the Iraqi Government last December, there were about a hundred smaller protests with similar demands – too many to ignore.

Looks like someone was either too blind to see the alarming signs, or too busy doing more important things.

The protests, reportedly, began with demands to solve problems with water and electricity shortages. Iraq, being among the top five oil-exporting countries, has no money to pay off its debts to Iran for electricity.

But no, I am probably mistaken. There is too much money in Iraq, so instead of restoring the heavily damaged public infrastructure, the Iraqi authorities decided to build a 600-kilometer fence along the Iraqi-Syrian border to "protect" the country from the IS. The last time walls saved people in the deep middle ages.

Now the Iraqi people, sacrificing their lives, are calling on the Iraqi authorities and the Iraqi elite to take immediate action for the sake of the state’s survival: to launch the process of eradicating corruption, to create a new healthy government that will deal with the post-war reconstruction of the country, to stop sectarian strife in the country, etc.

You can hold out on promises for a while, but then you will still have to answer.

Is there anything in today’s Iraq that can unite the entire Iraqi people, regardless of nationality, a particular religious affiliation, and political preferences? Or has it gone too far?

If so, then you may have to call a new Saddam.

Where is Muqtada al-Sadr and why is he keeping silent?

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