WEEK 38: The political stagnation neutralizes some of the progress with the Sunni Tribes and defeating Al Qaeda. After accomplishing nothing, they politicians go on a break. The whole scenario reminds me of a scene from Dog Day Afternoon and Man of LaMancha. Let’s go with the latter.
“One pair of arms is like another
I don’t know why or who’s to blame,
I’ll go with you or with your brother
It’s all the same, it’s all the same.”
“Its All the Same” as sung by Aldonza in Man of La Mancha
In 2004, my friend’s wife asked me what I thought of our mission in Iraq. I told Debbie Iraq has great potential. It has oil, of course, for wealth but it has much more. Iraq has the agriculture of the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Iraq can feed itself and many others. Iraq has a history steeped in culture and religion. It is the birthplace of civilization and the common roots for three major religions.
People will want to go to Iraq to see their religious roots. They will want to see where Noah and Abraham tread. The country has an educated professional brain pool upon which it can draw once the professionals return. Iraq can be the powerhouse of the Middle East in a generation. The country was secular, educated and wealthy. It can do it again.
I must be dreaming the Impossible Dream as I almost believe myself Iraq is a veritable Dulcinea where we can establish a democracy.
All we have to do is overcome nefarious outside influence, negate sectarianism and overcome a few decades, if not centuries, of ruthless political violence. Tilting windmills should be so easy.
We do have some progress to cite as the civilian murder rates have dropped and markets have opened. We are also seeing signs of the Iraqis doing their own communicating to their people. General Abud and the Baghdad operations Center leaders are appearing more on television and General Qassim Atta must be a household name as he is all over the Arab news networks. The Iraqi Army even has its own recruiting show on Iraqiya every Friday.
The politicians from city and province are also moving to the fore. The Mayor’s Magazine broadcasts on Iraqiya weekly. This week’s edition announced the new projects Baghdad city will soon start to improve living conditions. The Baghdad Province Governor, Governor Tahan, traveled to Taji to meet with key sheiks. The Provincial Committee has its own newspaper, The Baghdaduna, and took some initiative to contact Iraqiya for covering the mass wedding on Abu Nuwas Street.
Abu Nuwas Street itself is turning into a government success story. The markets are a matter of life to the Iraqis.
They go to the markets to buy their dinner, clothe their family, meet their friends, argue their cause and much more. Al Qaeda tried to take away their life but, to their credit, the Iraqis are battling back. Shorja Market is safe. Palestine Street is coming back and Doura Market is rebounding.
Before I departed for Iraq last fall, I wrote an e-mail to my friends and family. I warned I probably would disown them if I heard any of them were saying to quit or pull out. As I have noted from time to time, we cannot run away with honor. This isn’t a Monty Python movie. Rather, this is a noble cause of which Don Quixote would be proud to endure.
Despite the local progress, though, I’d have tough time convincing my friends and family I would not be better off in a Spanish Prison. The government has failed to pass any substantive legislation on oil revenue sharing or Debaathification to make Reconciliation a reality. The Sadrists and Tawafuq Front ministers have resigned. The Kurdish parties and Allawi affiliates may soon do the same.
The national government is at a standstill. The Council of Representatives is on recess. Sectarianism continues. The people are suffering. The soldiers keep fighting and it still feels the same.