Sunday, April 04, 2004

Why some Iraqis are surprised?

Since the Falluja incident, I have come across lots of Iraqis who were angry, shocked and surprised at what happened to the 4 Americans who have died. While, I totally understand the first 2 sentiments, I find Iraqis being surprised at what happened a bit bewildering. There are various examples within the recent history of Iraq where dead people had been treated in the same manner. In 1941, with aid of the occupying British forces the prince regent of Iraq managed to orchestrate a coup within the state and in the process ordered the execution of what was alleged to be pro-Germany Iraqi army officers, their bodies were hanged from lampposts in front of the defence ministry for days as an example for others. As fate would have it the prince regent himself died the same way in 1958 when the Iraqi army took over power.
People would argue that these acts were done by people hungry for power. Well, that is true, but in 1959 ordinary people participated in the savagery, when Kurds, and communists descended on the towns of Kirkuk, and Mosul killing Turkmen, and Arabs in the process. Once Saddam came to power, he just took it to another level of viciousness. Also, should we not forget, the same fate happened to the Spanish soldiers serving in southern Iraq, where it is deemed to be a friendly territory.
As I see it in Iraq today, civil society institutions in Iraq are non existent. Even when they were, they did not play that major role in affecting the culture and tradition of the society. Ever since the creation of Iraq, it has been like a pressure cooker that is waiting to blow up. Every few years there was some kind of political upheaval (internally or externally) which put the Iraqi people in a very extreme position. Iraqis have always been faced with an ever upward spiralling circle of violence. The only language they know now is violence. I don’t think they think straight anymore, their perspective towards life is different. Images of death and cruelty have become normal to them, what others see as grotesque, is actually quite normal for Iraqis.
Nobody has suggested anything to fix the problem, whether it was Iraqis or others. The only thing people managed to do is to dehumanise others who perpetrated such actions, so that when they are hit hard, which will happen, nobody will be none too bothered, and infact will be supportive of the measures taken, although this will be counter productive and a failed policy in the end as violence will only begets violence. At the end of the day there are some underlying problems that have been there since before Saddam has come to power and they simply need to be fixed.
Iraq and Iraqis need to have a long period of peace and tranquillity, to heal them internally as they have never experienced this kind of life for any sustained period of time. A whole programme has to be created to teach them the values that here ordinary people in the west and other parts of the world take for granted. I only hope that it is not too late for such thing and we can walk away from the abyss we are standing in front of right now.

By the way, lynching, tying people to cars and supporting people who do such things are not just exclusive to Iraqis.



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