Taking on the idea that the US must stay in Iraq or the country will fall into chaosSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Taking on the idea that the US must stay in Iraq or the country will fall into chaos
 


28 June 2005 at 1:20:28 PM
salon

We've been considering the premise that the United States is forced to stay in Iraq until some condition is met, such as having enough Iraqi security forces to prevent civil war. Meanwhile, buckets of money that US taxpayers expected to go for reconstruction have been wasted, and are properly unaccounted for. The idea that Iraqis are children that could not possibly govern themselves without benefit of an overseeing occupier government is faulty and we have proof of it from the time of the occupation of Iraq. A little history from Juan Cole

    • Iraqis wanted immediately to hold elections after being "liberated"
    • Iraqis arranged to hold local elections in their towns, Paul Bremer cancelled them
    • Iraqis urged for the Coalition to take a census so that voting rolls could be established (no need for purple fingers). Bremer never did this.

Despair Deepens for Iraqis

In the past 12 months, his brother was killed in an assassination attempt on the Education Ministry official, his restaurant was badly damaged by three car bombings targeting the neighboring police station, and he has lost confidence in the U.S. military to effectively fight the insurgency.

"Nothing will change until the Americans leave," Deen, 33, said at his home in Baghdad's Saydiyah neighborhood. "The resistance will not stop until the Americans go away. Once they leave, we can then only figure out if there is any hope of the Sunnis and Shiites coming together."

While his troubles are greater than most, Deen's pessimism reflects a growing despondence among Iraqis in the capital.

Many Iraqis are looking at June 28 not as a watershed day in the nation's history but as a benchmark in the guerrilla war that has gripped much of the country for the past year....

in the streets of Baghdad, sovereignty is still a nebulous idea, and the daily violence overshadows the progress that has been made.

Many Iraqis interviewed said they believe U.S. officials have too much influence in the nation's important decisions and the government is far too dependent on the Americans for Iraqis to place much stock in their sovereignty.

"This is not a democracy," said Sarah Abdul Kareem, 21, a Shiite. "This is chaos."

The confidence of many Iraqis about the future of Iraq, even among those who supported the invasion, seems to dive as the insurgency shows no signs of waning.

Iraq- A Bloody Mess

A year ago the supposed handover of power by the US occupation authority to an Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi was billed as a turning point in the violent history of post-Saddam Iraq.

It has turned out to be no such thing. Most of Iraq is today a bloody no-man's land beset by ruthless insurgents, savage bandit gangs, trigger-happy US patrols and marauding government forces.

The news now from Iraq is only depressing. All the roads leading out of the capital are cut. Iraqi security and US troops can only get through in heavily armed convoys. There is a wave of assassinations of senior Iraqi officers based on chillingly accurate intelligence. A deputy police chief of Baghdad was murdered on Sunday. A total of 52 senior Iraqi government or religious figures have been assassinated since the handover. In June 2004 insurgents killed 42 US soldiers; so far this month 75 have been killed.

The "handover of power" last June was always a misnomer. Much real power remained in the hands of the US. Its 140,000 troops kept the new government in business. Mr Allawi's new cabinet members became notorious for the amount of time they spent out of the country. Safely abroad they often gave optimistic speeches predicting the imminent demise of the insurgency.

Despite this the number of Iraqi military and police being killed every month has risen from 160 at the handover to 219 today.

There were two further supposed turning points over the past year. The first was the capture by US Marines of the rebel stronghold of Fallujah last November after a bloody battle which left most of the city of 300,000 people in ruins. In January there was the general election in which the Shia and Kurds triumphed.

Both events were heavily covered by the international media. But such is the danger for television and newspaper correspondents in Iraq that their capacity to report is more and more limited. The fall of Fallujah did not break the back of the resistance. Their best fighters simply retreated to fight again elsewhere. Many took refuge in Baghdad. At the same time as the insurgents lost Fallujah they captured most of Mosul, a far larger city. Much of Sunni Iraq remained under their sway.

At the handover of power the number of foreign fighters in the insurgency was estimated in the "low hundreds". That figure has been revised up to at least 1,000 and the overall figure for the number of insurgents is put at 16,000.

The election may have been won by the Shia and Kurds but it was boycotted by the five million Sunnis and they are the core of the rebellion. It took three months to put together a new government as Sunni, Shia, Kurds and Americans competed for their share of the cake. For all their declarations about Iraqi security, the US wanted to retain as much power in its own hands as it could. When the Shia took over the interior ministry its intelligence files were hastily transferred to the US headquarters in the Green Zone.

To most ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad it is evident that life over the past year has been getting worse. The insurgents seem to have an endless supply of suicide bombers whose attacks ensure a permanent sense of threat. In addition the necessities of life are becoming more difficult to obtain. At one moment last winter there were queues of cars outside petrol stations several miles long.

The sense of fear in Baghdad is difficult to convey. Petrol is such a necessity because people need to pick up their children from school because they are terrified of them being kidnapped. Parents mob the doors of schools and swiftly become hysterical if they cannot find their children. Doctors are fleeing the country because so many have been held for ransom, some tortured and killed because their families could not raise the money.

Homes in Baghdad are currently getting between six and eight hours' electricity a day. Nothing has improved at the power stations since the hand-over of security a year ago. In a city where the temperature yesterday was 40C, people swelter without air conditioning because the omnipresent small generators do not produce enough current to keep them going. In recent weeks there has also been a chronic shortage of water.


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