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America and the Current Iraqi Mess PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 23 January 2005 09:15
Do not agree with everything the gurus of the Bush administration or the pundits from the major media organizations or even the great experts in international relations tell you about the situation in Iraq, because these people are not in touch with the realities of the situation on the ground, what they are saying is not emanating from the field.  These people are talking from important offices in the Pentagon or foggy bottom or from very cozy suites in the headquarters of an important TV network or from the libraries and research centers in their think tanks.  The current situation in Iraq is very dangerous and absolutely chaotic, it is a total mess and is affecting every facet of the lives of the Iraqis.  It is posing incredible dangers to our survival and future and to the Americans as well.

When the Americans were planning Operation Iraqi Freedom to affect a regime change here they promised and in the words of their highest officials that after finishing the military phase of the operation they will immediately launch a program of reconstruction of the country, it’s infrastructure and the rehabilitation of its moribund and dying institutions something akin to The Marshal Plan by which they instituted to rebuilt the devastated Western Europe at the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Nazis, but we did not get a Marshal Plan in the beginning we got Orha. Orha is an acronym for the office of reconstruction and rehabilitation which was established at the time they were planning their adventure in Iraq.  Orha duly arrived at the end of the major hostilities under the leadership of a retired Army general Jay Garner who has been involved in the efforts to help the Kurds after their brutal suppression by Saddam after their 1991 uprising an operation which was called provide comfort which was very successful.  Garner arrived with few ex-ambassadors, some defense departement officials and more ex-generals, but Garner did not last for a very long time he was suddenly replaced after only three weeks by Paul Bremer.  A report in Newsweek at the time described the Garner’s organization and I quote “Orha was plagued from the beginning by inexperience, bureaucratic infighting and inertia, its officials occupied the presidential palace with its marbled hallways were they lazed on cots set up beneath chandeliers and lavish murals and barbecued and played touch football on the parched lawn outside”.

Garner’s mission was described as a failure, but Bremer’s was a catastrophe, nobody in this country has heard about him before.  Bremer was described as an ex-official of The State Departement from the anti-terrorism section who has recently been working in the Kissinger consultancy in New York.  Bremer made from the start of his tenure a number of truly colossal mistakes the repercussions of which are still reverberating now.  Two of Bremer’s early decisions which were hailed at the time as necessary and courageous proved to have been very serious blunders and have contributed heavily to the current mess, namely the disbanding of the army and the dismantling of the Ba’ath party for the very simple reason that not everyone who was called a Ba’athist or belonged to the army was a thief and a murderer.  Many people have been forced to join the Ba'ath party for a very simple reason, survival.  Bremer was relieved of his duties in Iraq after about a year.

Now I am going to talk about some of the major worries and the most important concerns of the people here in Iraq.

The first concern of the people is security or rather the lack of it.  Nobody is safe, and if you risk leaving your residence you might be kidnapped, shot at or find yourself in the wreckage of a mosque or a church which has just been demolished by a bombed car a rocket or some other similarly destructive device.  But very unfortunately these tragic events are being reported by the media in a very selective and self serving methods, they don’t seem to be interested in the agony and pain of the people and the families involved in these tragedies but rather in the sensation they create, and the way a great deal of what is being reported from here is escalating the panic and the tension in an already very tense and panicky environment.

The second is the essentials, food water medicine and fuels, people used to receive under Saddam a meager ration which was at best no more than a 1200 Calories a day which is not even a two thirds of the human requirement of a young adult  but that was the basic supply to a majority of the population, electricity or once again the lack of it is a big scandal, this has started few days after the end of what president Bush called the major hostilities of the war against Saddam and his regime, all the millions of US dollars spent on its restoration has failed to restore it to a semblance of normality, we get few hours of power a day which is far below the needs of an average family and even that level is not uniform and sometimes you might have to endure without it for hours on end and when this is added to the problems which people are facing in getting their the fuel to their cars their stoves or power generators gasoline kerosene and diesel fuels which are practically impossible to get from the usual venues of supply are becoming increasingly forced to by them from a very flourishing black market at extremely exorbitant prices which are usually 20-30 times above their usual price.

The vital services health, education, communication and the others are in even a worse shape, the health system has practically collapsed the hospital care, their equipments and their supplies are below the minimal requirements, the educational system in all its levels is worse than the health, communications are bad, even the recent mobile networks which have been provided after Saddam have been worse than nothing, they cost a lot of money with practically nothing in return.

The current situation in Iraq is chaotic and very dangerous.  The future is worrying and totally unpredictable.  There has already been a great deal of suffering and death and destruction.  I very strongly believe that all of this pain and agony or at least most of it could have been averted had the Americans honored the promises they so solemnly pledged to the Iraqis when they were planning Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Dr. Najeeb Hanoudi
Baghdad,  23, Jan, 2005
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