The « new » and « liberated » Iraq is heading down an old path

by Samer Beyhum

Iraq War Protesters in Parliament Square Public Domain Image

It has been 8 years since the US invaded Iraq to depose the tyrant Saddam Hussein. What has changed since then? Not much really. The Iraqi people still suffer, whether it’s at the hands of local insurgents, who plant bombs and kill indiscriminately, or at the hands of US military, or at the hands of the government itself. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s seems to have consolidated more power than is necessary in his hands as he now directly commands « key security forces, including Iraq’s 54th and 56th brigades, as well as an elite counterterrorism force trained and supported by the U.S. Special Operations Command  » according to an article written by Ben Van Heuvelen featured at the Foreign Policy magazine. Maliki, under the guise of fighting the insurgency and elements of the old regime of Saddam Hussein, has gone further to antagonize an silence would be activists and journalists in covert activities. More recently, his goons stormed the office of the Journalistic Freedom Observatory, which is a small group associated with international human rights and journalistic organizations.

There is always cause to worry when a government begins silencing the media. It usually implies a broader coercive project by the state to stifle freedom and control the flow of information for their own means. The JFO is obviously not a terrorist organization, nor do are they instigators of unrest in Iraq. They are, as their title suggests, an observatory for insuring the freedom of press in Iraq.
Iraqis have been living in dire conditions for a very long time; life was already intolerable before the first Iraq war in the early nineties under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Life became worse after the coalition put an end to Saddam’s expansionist delusion and his invasion of Kuwaiti. The Iraqis endured sanctions by the west, torture by their leader, and the hardship of everyday life. Then there was 9/11 and we all know how Bush and his buddy Blair, lied to the world and unilaterally invaded Iraq under the guise of liberating the people from the tyrant who allegedly had a stock pile of mythical weapons of mass destruction. Of course, both notions where lies and the real reasons for the invasion had more to do with economic reasons by steeling Iraqi oil, robbing public funds, boosting the western defense and weapons industry, and other similar objectives.
So the US invaded Iraq in 2003, under false pretenses, and « liberate » Iraqis, but the people never really got to taste their freedom. Iraqis fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighboring Arab countries and some even fled to western countries. Those who stayed had to endure the merciless insurgency and the Iraqi civil war that ensued in addition to random humiliation at the hands of the western led coalition and all the « security » companies that opened up shop in Iraq as part of the US led effort to stimulate the defense industry. What should have been a new page in the history of Iraq became a tragic repeat of the past as corruption increased steadily, funds disappeared and more people died. To top it all off it would seem that US has mismanaged the even more than we were led to believe when news of billions of dollars of funds belonging to the Iraqis but frozen by sanctions went « missing » when the US « unfreeze them » and sent them to Iraq in an effort to stimulate growth. Who took the money? Your guess is as good as mine, but between American opportunists and corrupt Iraqi officials, the list is long. The real victims, of course, where the innocent Iraqi people, including children, women, elderly and average peace loving citizens.
Naturally, the Iraqi people are upset, and they have every reason to be upset. Encouraged by the Arab Spring, many Iraqis are refusing to be silent anymore. Slowly they are beginning to organize their own peaceful protests but the government, having learned from both the Bush administration and the tyrants of Syria, Libya and Yemen, are pre-empting the protests, hitting them with the same smear campaign used by the Arab tyrants, misusing keywords like « insurgents » and « islamists », using the media to frighten would be protesters by claiming that those rising up to demand their human rights are elements of the old Baathists regime of Saddam, and doing the utmost they can to silence journalists who would expose the truth.
Nothing has changed in Iraq. The leaders have not learned their lesson. An all though I support the Arab Spring, I hope that when it hits Iraq in full force that we will not see a repeat of the Atrocities in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. The Iraqi people have suffered enough and they deserve to live in peace and prosperity.

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