[Colum on Asia] Iraq Today
- 2008.10.07 (17:57:00)
It is difficult to understand the contents of a book by reading only a few pages as if going from its beginning towards its end. Likewise, if a doctor would like to diagnose and find a proper treatment for a disease she/he should not be satisfied with a few visible symptoms only.
As is the situation in Iraq today, we can find that a big part of the suffering spanning decades of hierarchy, authoritarian policies and marginalization of Iraqi community which is diverse and having its roots in religion, ethnicity and culture, has deprived the people of their fundamental right to participation in politics, economy and other social aspects.
In 1920, during the colonial period the British discovered oil in Iraq, it then established a Oil Company, 95% of whose benefit went directly to UK, France, the USA. In 1932, the British founded the Iraqi Monarchy, a parliamentarian system to secure its self-interest for a long time in Iraq; they then handed over the power to the Iraqi Sunni Elite who had blood relations with Saudi Arabia and the Jordanian royal family.
Since then, many times the Iraqi community protested in different forms and struggled against the elite to achieve all their fundamental rights such as economic, political and social rights, but these attempts which were put together by the Iraqi community were intercepted by the elitist monarchy that used military methods with full support from the UK military and warplanes.
In 1958, the Monarchist regime ended through a military coup, after which the power was hijacked for decades by the ruling military elite which also prevented any initiatives or development of democratization and participation of the Iraqi people. For a long time this situation was used by Western powers to secure their self-interest while turning a blind eye to the social injustices and violation of the fundamental political rights of the Iraqi people under the military Iraqi Sunni elitist government. The western powers never gave any attention to the tremendous suffering of the ordinary Iraqi citizens.
After the rebellion by Saddam Hussein against the Western power centers to fulfill his personal ambitions and to maintain his stronghold by occupying the oil fields in Kuwait in 1991, these countries formed a collective alliance and waged war in the name of Kuwaiti liberation. But at the same time, they kept silent when thousands of ordinary Iraqi people were being killed by Saddams troops, while hundred thousands of others fled to Turkey and Iran to take refuge so as to avoid the cruel oppression by the troops of the murderous regime.
After the second Gulf War, it was an additional punishment for the ordinary citizens of Iraq when the UN and several western countries imposed economic sanction on the innocent civilians instead of coming down hard and taking the elitist military regime in Baghdad to task. In the last Gulf War in 2003, when the USA and its alliance invaded Iraq, the people refused to fight back and protect the brutal dictator regime. Majority of the people regarded the fall of the regime as a welcomed change, as well as a gate of hope, for a better future, which could be finally opened.
In Iraq today the existence of foreign occupation together with the complicated situation in the past and the diverse marginalized communities with different interests that exists, Iraq has turned into a society where people do not have a chance to participate and even make a choice on crucial issues that impact their daily lives.
Additionally, other countries in the region are interested and attempt to interfere in Iraqi issues. This also is an obstacle for Iraqis as it hinders their efforts to improve their own situation.
Due to the prolonged military-dictatorship regime, the Iraqis have been educated and oriented by a single party propaganda, advocating for one color, one voice, and one ideology, denying them the opportunity of participation of people or upholding to democratic principles.
The Iraqis were not ready to neither seize an opportunity which was provided by the change of regime (even through invasion) nor develop themselves by their own with an interest to restore the power to the hands of the people. Instead panic and revenge spread amongst the Shia and the Sunni community, as well as other minority groups. The Shia community, which is the majority in Iraq, believes that it is their right to rule the country after decades of suffering and marginalization. On other hand the Sunni Arabs believe that the power in Iraq is their inherited right which was feature of the past decades and they want it to continue for the decades to come. Whereas, the Kurdish people, who are minorities, need to secure their future to prevent any repetition of the past discriminatory polices implemented against them, which resulted in ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide for decades.
To build a new Iraq, which equally belongs to all Iraqi people regardless of their religious or ethnicity or culture, the ordinary people must and should be allowed to participate positively and actively in a practically democratic way, so that they can design the future for the coming generation in every fields of life and activity.
Iraqis are in need for solidarity and support through education and training to create an awareness about their rights, privileges, responsibility for their actions and also restoring them their confidence to build their economy and a civilized democratic society. Besides these initiatives are needed to build a peaceful and prosperous society in which all Iraqis live together and helping one another. The Korean civil society can play a great and a decisive role in this regard perhaps by supporting as a good friend as part of a solidarity movement amongst Asian countries for Iraqi people who are also part of the larger Asian community, as the proverb goes, A friend in need is a friend indeed?
Asmaiel Mersham(SUNGKONGHOE Uni. MAINS M.A, IRAQ)