paying the price

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, March 29, 2008

Iraq’s never-ending war

All explanations are possible for the current fighting in Basra, the largest city in southern Iraq situated in an area which floats on massive oil riches.

But the reality of the situation which tells volumes about what is happening is the fact that war, in the fullest sense of the word, has been raging without interruption in Iraq for the past five years.

Over those years, bombing by war planes and shelling by heavy artillery have been raging across the country, telling everyone inside and outside Iraq that conditions for normal life are no longer possible.

Amid such circumstances in which villages, towns and cities turn into battle scenes, there are still some whose total state of denial spurs them to speak of successes and achievements.

Every now and then in the past five years, the government or the foreign occupiers would launch massive and bloody operations on Iraqis in major cities such as Karbala, Najaf, Baaqouba, Kut, and Basra and so on and so forth.

Fierce fighting takes place inside these cities with the main fodder being innocent Iraqi civilians among them women and children.

In the past five years, Iraqis have been paying dearly for the blunders first of the foreigners who came to occupy their country and second of the Iraqis these foreigners have nurtured and supported to run the country.

Iraq has turned into a country of armies and militias, all with their own separate agendas and plans. All are bent on fighting each other over influence and privileges whether material or political and have nothing to do with the people and the country they are supposed to serve.

All these armies and militia groups believe their presence and use of force to attain their own ends are legitimate and enshrined in law.

Foreign troops have tailored U.N. Security Council resolutions to justify their presence and deeds in the country. The government leans on a newly designed constitution which only a few respect. And the militias – the real scourge – have their own interpretation for why they need to keep their arms and how to use them.

The tragedy is that almost all political factions are armed and have raised their own militias groups. Even American occupiers today have their own Iraqi militias.

This is the harvest of the political process whose initiators relied on sectarianism to sell it to the Iraqis. It started with the fall of Baghdad to U.S. troops whose commanders and civil leaders sanctioned and Iraqi factional groups jumped on as a means to achieve their ends.

And now neither the Americans nor the factional government have the slightest idea of how to have it solved.

Previously, they spoke of ‘the Sunni Triangle’ where most of the military operations used to take place. They gave the world the impression that the other Iraqi ‘triangles’ were calm and serene.

Southern Iraq was left to its own. Without real administration and civil order, the region, Iraq’s richest in oil reserves, almost turned into a no-man’s land with marauding militias strengthening their grip on almost all aspects of life.

Today the parties responsible for the occupation of the country, whether foreigners or their Iraqi lackeys, are to blame for the loss of a country which, with proper and wise leadership, could have now turned into a beacon of democracy and economic prosperity in the Middle East.

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