Iraq at 5: The World Reacts

Today, March 19, marks five years of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Initially a plan to oust Saddam Hussein and “end the war before it started,” the war in Iraq continues to this day, much to the dismay of many ordinary citizens around the globe. In that vein, Global Voices Online will post reactions today from bloggers in Iraq, the Middle East and North Africa, and elsewhere.

Jordanian blogger The Black Iris leads off a post with a list of “the number of Iraqis freed,” saying “take your pick”:

– 82,000 and 89,000 – Iraq Body Count
– 151,000 – Iraqi government & the World Health Organization (Mar.03 – Jun.06)
– 654,865 – British medical journal The Lancet (March 2003 and July 2006)
– 1,189,173 – Opinion Research Business (as of 2008)

Egyptian Ha Ana Za takes a trip back in time and shares her feelings here:

I remember in 2003, many celebrated the toppling of Saddam's giant statue in the centre of Baghdad and all expected Iraq to be a free and democratic country by the end of the year, a shining beacon of liberal values across the Middle East. Five years on and the death toll has been estimated to being as high as 1,120,000, and with as many as 5 million Iraqis being displaced. Iraq as a country seems to be further away from peace than ever before, with internal sectarian strife making dreams of stability seem impossible.

She also asks:

Why do we continue to forget Iraq? Everyday we are delivered news of suicide bombings and attacks and yet we are numbed to the horror? Perhaps we shed a few tears and then turn our attention back to the football game. In this way we are all guilty.

From Turkey, blogger WorldTurkey laments the anniversary of the war:

For a majority of Americans, today marks the fifth anniversary of the start of an Iraq war that was not worth fighting, one that has cost thousands of lives and more than half a trillion dollars. For the Bush administration, however, it is the first anniversary of an Iraq strategy that it believes has finally started to succeed.

Syrian Maysaloon, referencing Robert Fisk's recent article on the war, comments:

I liked Fisk's last article. It's so easy to be distracted with the rubbish said by both the people who are against the war in Iraq as well as those for it. That is why it is so refreshing to read an article from someone who has an accuate perspective of what's happening – and an interest in history. Regardless of criticisms, Fisk is good when he writes on most things except Lebanon where, I agree with Abu Khalil, he is virtually unreadable. Having said that, Pity the Nation will always be one of my favourite books.

No Iraq War

In Palestine, Al-falasteenyia remembers how the war started:

Five years ago-

It was my freshman year of college and I was having dinner with friends at the campus center when Bush came on TV. The campus center was usually very busy at this hour, but when Bush started talking everything stopped. As he declared war on Iraq, I looked around and saw that everyone was completely frozen, staring at the screen- they had even stopped eating. It was one of those moments I would remember forever because life would never be the same after that moment. I couldn't finish my dinner afterwards. I knew what would come next- but I had no idea exactly how bad things would turn out. In the weeks that followed we saw the bombing over Baghdad- the TV lit up in green and they called it shock and awe. I wondered why they didn't call the operation as it is- bombing the hell out of Iraqis.

She wonders when we'll remember Iraq and Palestine:

The sad reality is that whether its Iraq or Palestine or almost any place else in the “Middle East” – we are not in control of our own fate. It's been sixty years and Palestinians are wondering when they will be able to return home. I sometimes wonder if it will take another sixty years before Palestinians and Iraqis make it back home. In the meantime, we continue to sit, watch, and lament: wondering, waiting, for the day we re-claim our destiny.

American blogger Juan Cole (a professor of history and the Middle East) of Informed Comment characterizes the past five years by Bush's actions:

I posit that each year of the war has been characterized by a central lie by the Bush propaganda machine.

Year 1: “There is no guerilla war.”
Year 2: “Iraq is a model democracy.”
Year 3: “Zarqawi is causing all the trouble.”
Year 4: “There is no Civil War.”
Year 5: “Everything is calm now.”

I also suggest that John McCain is pushing for:

Year 6: “Total victory is around the corner.”

Finally, The Angry Arab News Service out of Lebanon reacts to Bush's speech earlier today:

I watched Bush earlier. He is still trying to scare Americans. This guy will continue to scare the American people to the last day of his presidency. There were people like this dude in the middle ages: these were the men who roamed the streets and village squares yelling about the evil of women witches and heretics.

Creative Commons-licensed photo by Dean Terry


  • Eileen Hagger-Street

    Listening this morning to BBC Radio 4, I learned that Basra now is virtually run by 20 or so Islamic fundamentalist militia groups. They target women who wear make-up or have their hair uncovered. Over 100 women have been murdered, some left lying in the street with their eyes gouged out. What price ‘democracy’ for them? Did the governments who waged war on Iraq imagine this as an outcome? What can we as women do to help our sisters in Basra?

  • […] about US politics and foreign policy. Yesterday, Voices Without Votes posted a thought-provoking roundup of Middle Eastern commentary on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq […]

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