Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A reflection on Iraq, after seven years of war.

After seven years of war, Iraqis live with...
  • A society (other than the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region) broken from the invasion and occupation, with the loss of civil society and the deterioration of trust and cohesion necessary for a peaceful society. There has been some reconstruction, but most infrastructure remains unrepaired. There is still contaminated water, an average of only four to six hours a day of electricity, and inadequate medical care.

  • Violence, killing, and torture still the norm in the northern Iraqi Kurdish region because the United States supplied and supported Saddam Hussein during the Anfal campaign (the genocide against the Kurds).

  • Deaths of an estimated million Iraqi civilians since 2003 (statistic from a Sept. 2007 poll by British polling agency ORB).

  • Continued economic crisis. Sixty percent of families rely on food rations, which have been reduced. Unemployment is over 50 percent. Prices of food and fuel have increased, but not wages.

  • Iraqis in control of prisons and "security," but with many innocent detainees forced, through torture, to confess to acts of terror they did not commit. Iraqis often feel terrorized by Special Forces. Many Iraqis say that the ways of Saddam continue.

  • Continued widespread anger and despair about the conditions of their lives.

  • Decreased violence on the streets in central and southern Iraq, but without the deeper problems being resolved. Iraqis still live in daily fear of kidnaping or other violence. Many say the groups doing greater acts of terror have moved to areas such as Mosul and Baqubah where higher rates of violence continue.

  • Women subjected to increased violence and loss of personal rights and freedoms.

  • Children growing up seeing violence and killing as the norm.

  • A country polluted with radioactive depleted uranium from US weaponry used in the 1991 and 2003 wars with Iraq, resulting in increased cancers and birth defects.

  • A ratified constitution and current elections, but a government plagued with power struggles. Kurds in Kirkuk and other northern disputed areas are afraid of civil war between Arabs and Kurds.

  • The US government still giving military intelligence to Turkish military planes to fly over Iraqi airspace and bomb civilians in villages along Iraq's northern borders. The US turning a blind eye to Turkish attempts to destabilize the Kurdish region, while using the actions of the armed resistance group, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), as their excuse. Turkish bombing and Iranian shelling across the borders cause destruction of hundreds of villages and displacement and disruption of thousands of residents' lives.

  • An estimated 4.5 million Iraqis having fled to other countries or living as displaced people in their own country, because of the hardship and dangers.
Although Iraqis suffered from brutal policies under Saddam Hussein's regime and US and British interventionist policies before 2003, words cannot express the anguish that the Iraqi people have experienced in these last seven years of the continued war. Occupying forces have exacerbated ethnic conflicts and oppressive political forces in their country that will continue to cause suffering and hardship for generations.

-- Peggy Gish is a Church of the Brethren member who works in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on a regular basis. An initiative of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers), CPT seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict. For more go to

Source: 4/7/2010 Newsline

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