Iraq: One Year Later

The days of Uncle Sam kicking down the doors in Iraq are now over, but a year after the end of the conflict as we look over to the “cradle of civilization” what we see could be a little disheartening. The War in Iraq was a result of the “war on terror” that began after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In the spring of 2003, ground troops were deployed to Iraq to remove the ruthless dictator, Sadam Hussein, from power. On April 9th, Baghdad had fallen to coalition forces and by December 2003, American forces had captured Hussein. Militarily this war was a marvelous victory for the Allies. The overwhelming firepower and technology of the United States was no match for the Ba’athist Iraqi army. However, after toppling the Ba’ath party government, the United States was left to pick up the pieces and install a democratic government. However this proved difficult because in Iraq there are three primary ethnic groups: Sunnis Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Kurds. Historically, these groups have not gotten along and have often been violent towards one another. Now they are told they must cooperate if they want this “democracy” to work. If you think Republicans and Democrats are bad in America, throw in a third party and imagine how that would go, especially with a long history of hostility between the three groups in Iraq. On January 20th, 2005, Iraq held its first free election to have representatives create a constitution. However, a civil war erupted that would continue for several years. One thing we must realize is that the establishment of a functioning democracy is not an over-night thing; this will take a decade or even longer to get right. The opinion of the Iraqis is a mix. Some are optimistic but others are struggling to see a bright future. Tensions primarily between the two Muslim groups remain present and some Iraqis still feel oppressed. It seems that the majority of the people of Iraq were thankful that the United States removed Sadam from power however during the occupation phase the Iraqis were becoming annoyed with the Americans and they wanted to stand on their own. There is no doubt that the withdrawal of the U.S. was popular for them and they have designated December 31st “Sovereignty Day” to mark the withdrawal of the final U.S. forces. Unfortunately today the situation is still in turmoil as inter group fighting remains. Iraq does have a President, Jalal Talabani- aKurd, and a Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki-a Shia Muslim, but the situation is still very fragile. There is no unifying force to encourage cooperation among the ethnic factions. As the People of Iraq take to the streets to clean up and rebuild an ominous and familiar sound remains. The cries of protestors can still be heard and arguing and clashing is certainly not uncommon. The people are divided on issues and leadership is hard to find. There is no telling what the future will bring but for now the young government is still trying to put one foot in front of the other and make progress. It is vital that the three main factions work together; however, given the history the process could be slow and tenuous. The future alone holds the answers to the present questions, it is a matter of time until we know how post-war Iraq fares.