Published on March 20th, 2013 |
by Usman Butt
Image © AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
The Bloody Circus ten years on- Between Iraq and a hard place
March 17th 2003- The world watches and waits anxiously, as President George W. Bush is due to give a speech about Iraq. It is evening time in Washington when Bush appears; looking confident he struts into the room to give Iraq its ultimatum. America is at the height it’s of power, the ‘New Rome’ as some American strategies call it; President Bush looks very much like an emperor this evening. He opens “My fellow citizens. Events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision (To go to war)…. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours, their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing…. Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country, and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.”
Iraq- on the surface on things, life appears to be normal in the Iraqi capital Baghdad as this video shows. But Iraqis are nervous, very nervous they watch the skies, waiting for an attack from the south. The attack will take on the form of heavy Arial bombardment, followed by a ground assault or ‘Shock and Awe’ as the pentagon calls it.
Iraq, March 19/20th 2003- It is the early hours of the morning, the country awaits its fate, the nation awaits its downfall. The Muslim call to pray fills the streets of pre-dawn Baghdad, still no signs of the Americans. Then, all of a sudden, sirens go off across Baghdad. A few seconds later loud bangs and bright lights fill the Iraqi capital. The weeks that followed, Iraq was under constant assault, the major television networks in America and Britain have been bitten by the war bug. It is not enough to report on the war, they must incorporate the war into adverts, even the BBC did this.
10 years on- The initial invasion/war lasted 3 and half weeks, Saddam and his regime crumbled and President Bush declared the war to be over, but this was an illusion, what in-fact had ended was only the first phase. The Americans had no plan for post-Saddam Iraq, as soon as they took charge they dissolved all of Iraq’s institutions from the ministries to the military and security forces (but forgot to disarm them and many Iraqi soldiers took their weapons home). In the following years, Iraq went through a series of crippling civil wars in-which over a million people (since the fall of Saddam) have been killed. The war has cost the US government, an estimated $757.8 Billion dollars in direct spending, but when one includes interest payments on top of that it comes to under a trillion dollars. The greatest tragedy of all are not those who are dead, but Iraqis who are still alive but have been forgotten.
Iraq’s forgotten people- Thousands of Iraqi women and girls have been trafficked out of Iraq to work as prostitutes in brothels across the Arab world. 50, 000 Iraqi women are believed to have been trafficked and are involved in various kinds of sex work. Most, live in fear of their pimps, or being discovered by their relatives or arrested and deported. In some cases mothers and fathers sold their daughters off to traffickers and pimps. Before the 2011 Syrian uprising, Syria had been flooded with Iraqi refugees. The trafficking of women caused social problems in Syria, as the influx of Iraqi ‘working-girls’ turned Damascus into the top country for sex tourism in the Middle East.
Christians- Iraq had some of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, most of those communities pre-date Christianity in Europe. Since the 2003 invasion, there has been a enormous flight of Christians from the country, many fleeing sectarian violence. The Christians are at a particular disadvantage, as they are seen as sharing the same faith as the invaders.
There are many other ‘forgotten people’ it is not possible to write about all of them in one article, however as the 10th anniversary of the 2003 Invasion comes, we should perhaps start to reflect on our legacy in Iraq and the impacts on its people. We should remember the forgotten. Iraq ten-years on is still an unstable place and without serious reflection on the victims, we (in the West) could be doomed to repeat the same mistake in another country. The article opened up with a pre-invasion diary, which showed imperial grand-standing and the ‘arrogance of power’. However, it ends on a sobering note, that when all is said and done the victims are left to pick up the pieces. The anniversary should remind us of the dangers of ‘unchecked’ political power, in-the future when ‘we’ go to war, ask yourself this. In 10 years time can I look at the minorities and women from the society in the face, can I tell them that it was necessary and for the collective good, that we went to war with them?