Iraq, 60 years on

Iraq is currently paying the price of what was committed 60 years ago, on July 14, 1958. The current developments in South Iraq, which can expand to Baghdad cannot be separated from a history of six decades.

This history, Iraq’s modern history, began with the massacre in al-Rahab Palace where members of the royal Hashemite family were killed and it ended with the control of a group of men from the military. This paved way for the Baath Party, with all its backwardness, to attain power, then for the 2003 American invasion, which produced a system that’s failed, corrupt and backward in every field.

What’s happening in South Iraq these days – on the anniversary of the 1958 military coup – is a culmination of continuous deterioration that has destroyed Iraq which has never witnessed a good day for 60 years now. The six decades since al-Rahab Palace massacre were tantamount to a nightmare that exposed what military coups can lead to and where it can take countries that were capable of being the best, and rather the best on all fronts in the region.

Shortage of electricity in Basra is only one aspect of the Iraqi tragedies which can be summed up in few simple questions: Where did the money which Iraq made from its oil go since 2003? How can all this money be spent without supplying Basra with electricity?

Khairallah Khairallah

Iraq, thanks to its wealth and mainly its human resources, was qualified to be an economic tiger in the region if it had been allowed to develop normally away from slogans like the liberation of Palestine. However, what can be done when it had to pay the price for the Arab nationalist tide, which Gamal Abdelnasser laid the foundation for via his delusional victories?

The 1958 coup was followed by military hegemony then came the wars, which Saddam Hussein caused. Afterwards there was the American invasion, which practically made Iraq under direct and indirect Iranian domination.

Years of tragedies

What can long years of consecutive tragedies lead to other than we currently see in Basra, Najaf, Nasiriyah and other cities and towns in the South? What can long years of governing by the ignorant, from the military and the Baath Party, and a corrupt regime that’s managed by sectarian instincts and militias controlled by Iran achieve?

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Shortage of electricity in Basra is only one aspect of the Iraqi tragedies which can be summed up in few simple questions: Where did the money which Iraq made from its oil go since 2003? How can all this money be spent without supplying Basra with electricity?

What’s happening today in Iraq is not a mere popular uprising of youths who demand electricity and job opportunities in a bankrupt country which situation deteriorates by the day. It’s a country whose voters are distributed among sectarian parties that do not possess any political or economic agendas. It’s a country where universities have become a place to practice religious rituals instead of being institutions that graduate doctors, engineers and scientists and that benefit from the technological revolution in the world.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing that Iraq witnessed in the past years is represented in tearing up whatever is left of its social fabric. Sectarian parties thus control all aspects of life and impose values that have nothing to do with what’s civilized in this world. In Iraq, there’s no longer a place for a head of a family who wants to raise his children right. There’s no longer a future except for the corrupt who work for religious parties and for hypocrites who accept that their country follows Iran.

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How was Iraq 60 years ago? What has become of it now? The royal regime was definitely not perfect but it was a regime that could be developed. The Hashemite family had different values that did not include practicing violence. Back then, Iraq had values that relied on tolerance and openness to the world, specifically to the West.

There were no values that were based on eliminating others just because their loyalty is doubted. The best Iraqi people were appointed to public posts regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity. Does it make sense that a cleric who lacks political knowledge seeks to lead the country and organize its political life?

Iranian influence

There are two things which are perhaps the most dangerous in Iraq right now. The first one is the failure of the Kurds, in the light of the disastrous results of proceeding to carry out the independence referendum last September, to establish a region that’s a successful model to what Iraq can be in the future.

The second thing is Iran’s capability to use Iraq to influence oil supplies in the world. Therefore, it’s not strange that some Iraqi officials’ statements that there are “infiltrators” who are working to escalate the situation refers to people affiliated with Iran. What cannot be ignored is that Iran is going through a tough phase now amid fears of more US sanctions that will focus on its oil exports.

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The hypothesis that Iran, which threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if it was prevented from exporting its oil, wanted to direct a message to the Trump-Putin summit and that stipulates that if it’s incapable of blocking the strait then it can use the Iraqis to obstruct the export of Iraqi oil cannot be ruled out. This will greatly influence the global market and the price of the barrel of oil.

Whatever the dimensions of the popular activity in South Iraq are and regardless of whether it’s in fact spontaneous, and it actually is in some parts, and regardless of whether it reaches Baghdad or not, there is a sad scene which we cannot avoid addressing. There has been a process of systematic destruction of Iraq during 60 years.

It began with the mob that killed the members of the royal family, including King Faisal II. This mob later spoke of a “revolution.” How can spiteful officers, who are semi-illiterate and narrow-minded and who only believe in murder, carry out a revolution?

This destruction process has not ended yet although Iran, which was the other partner in the American war on Iraq, avenged from every high-ranking pilot and officer who participated in the 1980-1988 war, worked on destroying every significant and vital Iraqi facility and directly supervised sectarian purging operations in all Iraqi cities and areas.

It does not seem there is hope in the horizon for Iraq although there’s a general desire to get rid of Iranian hegemony, even among the Shiites. The worst thing is that Iran may be in a situation that enables it to exploit Iraq’s oil in its interest. It seems Iran has not yet quenched its thirst from Iraqi blood and from the gains it had made until now from the American invasion.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Khairallah Khairallah is an Arab columnist who was formerly Annahar's foreign editor (1976-1988) and Al-Hayat's managing editor (1988-1998).

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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