The last U.S. combat troop left Iraq on the 18th of December and yet they leave behind them a war torn country deeply divided on political, if not sectarian, lines. A country that can boast of around 2.5 million internally displaced persons. A country whose infrastructure has been ravaged and subsequently built anew upon the foundations of wide spread corruption. A country whose body count is so high I could not bring myself to write down the number here even if I could find an accurate enough source.
And I suppose herein lies the problem, Iraq and the allied invasion-cum-occupation has become a question of stats. As opposed to discussing how your average Moe in Baghdad feels, we are asking how many people Saddam condemned to their deaths compared with how many the Americans bombed to an early grave. The question of whose torture methods were more brutal or are there more hours of electricity since Saddam’s tyranny came to an end.
Of course If I were to give you the choice between losing one or both of your eyes the expected answer would be a formality but indeed you would ask yourself as to why you are being forced to make such a dreadful selection. I believe this analogy strongly applies to Iraq and its people. Why should the long oppressed people of the land of the Euphrates and the Tigris have to choose between American checkpoints, indiscriminate bombings and random arrest or Saddams secret police, acid baths and beheading rituals?
The Iraqis made their position clear in this regard as the resistance to occupation rule intensified and American military deaths became a norm, even though the uprisings were staggered and much inter and intra sect fighting between the various militia groups took place. The American populace soon got sick and frustrated of seeing their sons returning from the East in coffins. And so, it was that Mr Obama, facing popular discontent at home, an increasingly effective insurgency in Iraq and stubborn Iraqi politicians in Baghdad, reiterated the promise to end all combat operations and pull out the last remaining troops from Iraq.
With all that now said and done I ask myself the question, does the very cradle of civilisation not deserve more from the world? Instead this land that gave the world the first code of law, writing, alchemy, algebra, the wheel and, for the young at heart, the story of Aladdin, has been largely decimated by foreign hands.
However, as anyone in the Arab world will tell you, Iraqis are famed for their resilience, and no reader of history would dare bet against the Iraqis rising up and taking Iraq back to its position at the forefront of the Arab and Islamic worlds. History has a knack of repeating itself and it can do it again in Iraq.
Not many have been able to hold on to this jewel while many have attempted to do so, eventually meeting their demise at the hands of the Iraqi people. To give you an insight, at least four of the eight rulers of Iraq since 1921 have met an early grave, with Saddam Hussein himself the latest to swallow the curse of Mesopotamia. So, as the inconspicuous and hastily planned American troop withdrawal ceremony was held, who is to say that a certain Mr G. W. Bush watching on his screen in Texas will not be Mesopotamia’s next victim?
Zaid Laith Al-Atrakchi
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East