In a few weeks, our politicians will appear on TV screens talking about the great moment in which change took place, and the gains that were made for the people through the “democratic” constitution and the “cooperative” parliament.
But after 18 years, real change has become just a dream, a distant memory. Powerless Iraqi citizens have discovered that these past 18 years were a continuation of the era of Saddam Hussein. Perhaps recent Iraqi history was just an experiment in burning every shred of change; the sectarian jockeying for positions and scramble to snatch up the spoils of the post-Saddam era spoke volumes, and if simple Iraqis were feeling hopeful after the statue of Saddam was toppled, they were soon disappointed to discover more Saddams among them.
The Iraqi political scene after 18 years begs the question: What is the meaning of the sacrifices of Iraqis to end Saddam’s dictatorship only to find themselves faced with other dictatorships of gratuitous killing, silencing, intimidation, treason, and explosives planted under the very eyes of our “heroic” police? The Iraqis did not imagine that their sacrifices to rid themselves from the “Believing Leader and his Commandments”, as Saddam was referred to, could spawn new dictatorships, and that officials who rode in on the tanks of democracy, today go into a frenzy whenever they hear mention of a civil state, and whenever people yearn for better times.
Today, our politicians want citizens to be distracted by explosive packages planted near shops selling alcohol, under the pretext that they are contrary to religion, without addressing in any way, shape, or form, the religious ruling for the thief, the fraud, or the opportunist. Likewise, they refuse to bring up religion when it comes to the gangs that impose political and economic monopoly.
They play the religion card to justify planting explosive packages, killing those who disagree with them, and the disappearance of youth, while they ignore the side of religion that sees theft, killing the innocent, and destroying society as major sins.
The bloodshed and lack of respect for human life and dignity is nothing more than an attempt to impose a fait accompli, a way to let people know that the ruling parties are here to stay.
People were hoping for politicians that would strive for general well-being and social justice, instead our politicians strive obsessively for religious legitimacy for plundering the country and persecuting its people.
They will say that Saddam’s regime is the root of all woes, and they forget that the Americans toppled the dictator’s statue 18 years ago in hopes that Iraqis could live under a new regime that would secure stability, prosperity and social justice for them.
The main issue that preoccupies people today is not alcohol shops or clubs, but rather this question: Have our inspired leaders forged even a single pathway through which people feel that their aspirations for change have been achieved?
This piece was originally published in, and translated from, Iraqi outlet al-Mada.