Iraq: The Worst is Yet to Come

Yellowed images and memories that are finally fading. Anniversaries usually serve to bring to the surface a past that has little by little been slipping away. The date of April 9, which is when American troops entered Baghdad, doesn’t fulfill that purpose. The images are still current. They are filled with blood and fire. They tell the story of a shipwreck in progress and of a conflict that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and just under 3,200 Americans.

Let us examine the sordid statistics to get a sense of this monstrosity: 500 billion dollars frittered away with the only benefactors, perhaps, being certain American companies; at least two million exiled, mostly doctors, architects and merchants. In short, the intellectual force of a nation has left a nation that has been plunged into several wars, as American Defense Secretary Robert Gates has pointed out.

Everyone talks of al-Qaeda and its destructive madness. But that’s only one small aspect of the problem. The Shiites are fighting among themselves for power and against the Sunnis, who would like to recover it. These two communities – sometimes – find that they agree on only one point: the fight against the “liberator” who very quickly became the invader.

And then, what is mentioned less and less often, is that Iraq has become a country of anarchy where brigands, extortionists and mafias cohabit, and it’s not always possible to distinguish them from the militia who have their own representatives in government. In this hell, the Americans – after a fashion – are trying somehow to deal with the most urgent issues first. But by sending reinforcements they are only serving to feed the fire. And this is due to one simple fact: The United States has become the source of the problem.

Recall that less than a month after the entry of GIs into Baghdad on April 9, 2003, George W. Bush declared on the deck of an aircraft carrier amidst much fanfare that the war was over. History is often cruel.

Up to now, the only area of stability in Iraq has been that of the Iraqi Kurds, who have been faithful supporters – perhaps the only ones left – of the Americans. But the Kurds are also beginning to get pulled into the mire. Kurdish President Talabani evoked the American occupier, although that’s who he owes his position to. And like an echo, the other Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, threatened to interfere with the Kurdish problem in Turkey [Kurds say the Turks oppress them]. One might as well say that a bomb has just been lit – and with a short fuse – which is located in Kirkuk, where a referendum is supposed to be held to determine whether the oil-rich city should be part of the Kurdish region – a referendum which is naturally unacceptable to Turkey. Ankara, defender of the Turkmen minority, could see this as a pretext to intervene militarily. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has let this be known loud and clear – on April 9, of course, as if to back up his remarks.

Iraq was invaded in a moment of ideological madness by American neoconservatives who dreamed of artificially grafting democracy there – and more likely, a Pax Americana. Four years later, Iraq is submerged in chaos and several wars. And the worst is undoubtedly yet to come.

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