Just like clockwork, when the date 4/9 rolls around, Facebook is all abuzz with those who bandy about the word “liberation”, and proponents of the word “occupation”, and all the crises engulfing Iraqi citizens seem to disappear for a moment.
Perhaps the first word that the Iraqi citizen uttered after 4/9 was “freedom”. People had suffered for decades from tyranny and dictatorship, but these same people today, as they enter the eighteenth year of change, find the words law, freedom and social justice have been chased out of all the cities of Iraq, and that America replaced Saddam’s regime with another that is afflicted by the same disease of tyranny and lust for power.
Saddam’s statue fell on 4/9, and the sectarian parties erected new statues of politicians who considered the change a special brand registered in their names. It is not at all surprising that the Iraqis feel that they have been deceived and that what is happening these days is not much different from what happened under Saddam Hussein’s regime. The statue of the dictator has fallen, but his regime and mentality are still in place, for the behavior of many of our politicians and officials is not far from the regime of the one-man leader. The sectarian conflict over positions and spoils is highly indicative, and if simple Iraqis were hopeful at Saddam’s capture, they were soon disappointed to discover that there is more than one Saddam among them today. Perhaps the question that we must ask, as we look back at everything that has happened since 2003, is: What was the point of the sacrifices made to end the dictatorial regime, only to find ourselves with dictatorships in the guise of a sect, clan, or armed force, ruthlessly quelling any opposition? What was the point, only for Iraqis to be subjected to new brands of killing? In Saddam’s era, people disappeared to detention centers and death cells, and today again we have disappearances and killings in the name of defending the new political system. What’s the point of replacing Saddam’s apparatus of oppression by death squads that terrorize the Iraqis? After eighteen years, the Iraqi feels alienated in his homeland. This is not the country he dreamed of post-2003, that was stolen from him in broad daylight. People went out looking for freedom, brotherhood and equality, and after eighteen years they wake up to a country ruled by a culture of ignorance, poverty, disease, and politicians who practice a democracy of idiocy, pettiness and thievery.
After 9/4/2003 the media and international public opinion echoed the term “Maarakat Al Hawassem” [the “Decisive Battle” which was the last standoff between Iraq and the US], as a hungry and oppressed people were looking for any means to express their anger against injustice, oppression and need. Most writers and commentators focused on the outward manifestations that occurred at that time without realizing that the civil ruler, Mr. Paul Bremer, was preparing the stage for a true age of decisiveness, and the “2021 Decisive Battle” has turned Iraq into a farm whose wealth goes to the holders of high positions.
This piece was originally published in, and translated from, Iraqi outlet al-Mada.