Ten Years After the War, Where is Iraq Headed?

April 13, 2013

Much has been written about the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, the US-led invasion, the liberation from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, and the reconstruction and rebuilding of the nation.

Most of the debate still centers around a specific event: The war, and its aftermath. The discussion still revolves around the question of whether the war was right or wrong, whether international engagement was justified, and whether or not Iraq is a better place without Saddam.

It goes without saying that Iraq is definitely better without Saddam. The massacres in neighboring Syria at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s Baath regime are a stark reminder of life under Saddam.

What the debate over the war has not questioned so far is whether or not Iraq is a viable country for its people. The past century has proven that Iraq is not a country that can be at peace with itself, its people and its neighbors. The people of Iraq could not work together. Their relationship has always been a zero-sum game: When one was strong the other was weak; when one was secure the other was not; when one was prosperous the other was poor.

The past ten years proved that words alone cannot make Iraq a better place. The past decade has shown that, with or without Saddam, Iraq is a failed state. The people who make Iraq are unable to work together. Hence, no single person is able to rule Iraq or hold it together.

What Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is doing today has been tried and tested, and failed in the past. What Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, is doing also has been tried and tested, and shown to be a failure. Likewise, what the Sunnis are trying to do today has been tried by the Shiites before, and has failed too.

Ten years ago, nobody would have imagined that Iraq would rank as one of the top countries in corruption. Few would have imagined that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch would write such damming reports about the state of human rights in the country. Nobody would have imagined that the country’s security apparatus still lacks basic necessities; the army is still preoccupied with providing internal security.

As things stand, each of Iraq’s three components has a different interpretation of what its Iraq should look like. One is looking East for an answer, the other is looking West and the third is looking to the past. None appears to convince the other two of its vision for the future.

The tenth anniversary of the war should be an opportunity for all Iraqis to reflect on their state, and seriously try and change the course of where each component is heading.

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