Iraqi rulers’ record since 2003 is hardly impressive

In the coming electoral cycle, all Iraqis should ask themselves about the achievements of the various Iraqi administrations since 2003.
Sunday 11/02/2018
Iraqi boys attend a class at a school in west Mosul. (AFP)
Soaring illiteracy. Iraqi boys attend a class at a school in west Mosul. (AFP)

The parties in power in Iraq are more than happy and willing to repeat — over and over again — that ballot boxes have the last say. They expect the citizens to believe they live in a democracy.

However, a quick look at the three most recent elections in Iraq reveals the incredible extent of cheating and the ugly reality of shady political wheeling and dealing. The array of manipulative tactics during election campaigns is amazing.

The best proof for this is that Iraq is living the same saga of failure after failure because the same players in the political arena are adamant on staying in the game by any means necessary.

During the initial phase of the democracy sham in Iraq, the chances of winning for any particular election list depended on how much Shia support that list enjoyed. The governing parties became experts at making local enemies based on sectarian discrimination and resorting to a variety of legal covers such as de-Ba’athification measures.

Such sectarian practices ruined the lives of Iraqi people. Now, after defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, everybody wants to reap the dividends of that victory and ride the wave of post-sectarianism. However, victory over ISIS is the only real achievement in Iraq and it must be credited to all Iraqis rather than to this official or that party.

In the coming electoral cycle, all Iraqis should ask themselves — in all fairness and without prejudice — about the achievements of the various Iraqi administrations since 2003.

Has the suffering in their daily lives lessened?

Is there less death and destruction in their communities?

Are they any safer in their homes or on the street?

With paramilitary militias roaming the streets and an absence of the state, are they safe from kidnapping, random arrests and murder?

We will not indulge in a comparison between pre-2003 Iraq and post-2003 Iraq. In 2003, the Iraqis were relieved of the shackles of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein but the Islamist parties of Iraq cannot claim for themselves that achievement. That is credited to the Americans and the Iranians.

Following that, the biggest achievement of the occupation forces was the dismantling of the Iraqi Army. That army belonged to the country and not to Saddam. It would have been a better choice to remove pro-Saddam officers and leave the army standing. Alas, once the army was gone, the gates were flung open for all agents of evil and destruction to overrun the country.

The most notorious achievement of the American occupation of Iraq was the establishment of the quota system of power-sharing left by the infamous Paul Bremer. It was disastrous for Iraq. Let’s not also forget the killing of hundreds of Iraqi scientists and the forced exile of thousands of doctors and engineers. The country’s intellectual elite was gone and was replaced by illiterate opportunists with fake diplomas from Iran.

It was heart-wrenching to come across scores of talented Iraqi doctors practising in British hospitals. They spoke of the pain they felt for being deprived of the honour of serving their country. They’ve become valuable additions to the British health services, so much so that, a few years ago, the British Ministry of Health feared facing a crisis should those doctors decide to return to Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who incidentally once had British nationality, knows this.

Other examples of the “glorious achievements” of the corrupt political parties in Iraq’s newly found democracy are easy to come by. Public education in Iraq has gone to pot. Illiteracy in Iraq was eliminated in the late 1970s and UNESCO ranked Iraqi public schools among the best in the world during the 1980s.

Recent statistics, however, show that the literacy rate in Iraq is approximately 60%. Six million Iraqis are completely illiterate and lecture halls in Iraqi universities have been turned into shrines.

Women also have fallen victim to these “great achievements.” As if the humiliation of the war and of retrograde practices were not enough, the great “progressive” parties of Iraqi democracy have eagerly pushed for a law allowing marriages with females as young as 9 years old. How is that for a great humanitarian achievement?

Wherever one looks in Iraq, there is corruption and failure. The son of the Najaf governor is selling drugs and billions of dollars have evaporated into fictitious contracts. Yet, Abadi dares at Davos to speak about his achievements. If the victory over ISIS is put aside, nothing of what Abadi mentioned is true.

Who would seriously believe that Iraq is experiencing “peace and stability that is the envy of the world” or that Iraq hasn’t experienced such a “dazzling state since 50 years ago” or that he would “push through with implementing the cross-sectarian project?”

Abadi always puts forth his so-called anti-corruption campaign but it is known he wouldn’t dare stand up to his friends, colleagues and influential members of his Dawa Party. He would like to convince people to judge him by his achievements post-2014 when he rose to power but just as Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nuri al-Maliki, who preceded him as prime minister, were, Abadi is the product of the Dawa Party.