In March 2003 the US-led invasion of my country, Iraq, began. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching as the bombs rained down on Baghdad; my parents wept silent tears of heartache. I was too young to understand the reason for their tears. Now, though, I understand perfectly; looking back, I think that had I known then what I know now I would have surely also wept, probably even more than my parents did. I would have wept for my family; wept for the innocents caught up in the bombings; wept for all the civilians killed for no reason. Most importantly, I would have wept for my country, my birth place, the place that I once again hope to call home.
The alleged objective of the invasion was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction and establish “democracy” in Iraq. To date no such weapons have been found and the intelligence used to support the invasion has been proven to be fabricated by Iraqi “defectors” who betrayed their country and people. Millions of innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and millions more have been displaced around the world. Saddam Hussain was removed from power, tried and executed; probably the real motive for the invasion all along. His replacements are “politicians” who cannot keep even simple promises made to their people; politicians who lie, cheat, kill and steal; politicians who have run the country into the ground and caused a whole population to suffer whilst they live a lavish lifestyle and steal the wealth of the nation; politicians who are Iranian and US puppets; politicians who have sold their people and country to the very nations against which the Iraqis have spent years at war. The nations in question have brought nothing but death and destruction to the Iraqi people. The once beautiful, strong country, the powerhouse of the region, is now a mere shadow of what it was. So what was the invasion and war all for?
Simple rights such as electricity, water, healthcare and medicine are not available. Security is non-existent. Car bombs, kidnapping and assassinations occur every day. Sectarian tensions have risen over the years. Terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Shia militias, unknown before the US invasion, now control large swathes of land across the country. They butcher and kill those who do not agree with them, bringing cities and civilians to their knees and causing them to lose all hope. The terrorists have caused millions to flee their homes and become refugees in their own land.
Iraq used to be a country where people lived in harmony and did not know what Shia, Sunni, Kurd or Arab meant, but it has been torn apart to such an extent that innocent people will be killed simply because of their identity or for having names such as Omar, Ali, Abu Bakr and Ayesha. Whole districts have been ethnically cleansed of one sect or another. People are being tortured, raped and murdered in prison for no reason except for who they are and what they believe in.
Having been brought up outside of Iraq and so not experiencing life under Saddam’s regime, I have only heard stories from those who supported or opposed him, so it is difficult for me to compare what life was like pre-invasion. However, it does not take a genius to see that the quality of life then was better. There was security, electricity, running water and healthcare, with relative harmony between the sects and ethnic groups. Surely, if the Iraqis themselves had wanted Saddam to be removed they would have rebelled against him, as those in other countries have done with some success.
Almost 12 years on from the war that defined a generation and caused nothing but heartache for Iraqi people worldwide, nothing has changed. People are still dying and suffering. We have a head of state who, the evidence suggests, is on the way to being even worse than Saddam. We have a government that has failed to deliver to its people. Most importantly of all, we have a nation of 30 million people who wake up every day praying for things to get better. So I pray with them that security and peace once again take hold and that a leader will rise up from amongst the people who can lead my country back to being a great nation worthy of its history and beauty. Please pray with me; the people of Iraq deserve nothing less.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.