Monday, March 27, 2006

My Translations and commentary on the Iraqi papers. Enjoy!

The Iraqi TV, al-Iraqiyya, continues its coverage of the raid on the mosque in Sadr City as the number of deaths went up from 17 to 20. The problem is that Iraqi "main stream" religious leaders are in rage. Of course this will help them exploit the situation to their political advantage. The have been given the short end of the stick lately and such incident immediately after the Samarra shrine bombing and the continued violence against the Shia by terrorists will make it very hard to ask the Shia to give any concessions (not that they should more than they have in the ideal world).
When the normally patient politicians like Jawad al-Maliki speak about the operations by American forces as "criminal" we should be alarmed. The TV showed graphic pictures of dead people whose bodies have sustained more than just bullets. Eye witnesses claim they were tortured before they were killed.

I am not vouching for the truth in this news. The role of this blog is to tell you what Iraqis are told and how this will affect the public opinion.

The TV also covered a session by the city council of Baghdad which suspended all dealings with the American forces until this incident is fully investigated "and the wrongdoers are brought to justice," according to the decision read by the chair of the city council. This should not be taken lightly. The British are having a very hard time ever since the city council of Basra decided to stop cooperation with their forces.

The Iraqi daily, Az-Zaman, reported on "a letter from President Bush to Abdulaziz al-Hakim," the head of the Shi'i list. According to the paper, President Bush "asked Hakim to replace Ibrahim al-Ja'fari as the nominee for the position of prime minister." If this report is true, the one should be replaced is the aide who suggested Bush sends this letter to Hakim. It is Sadr who holds the key to the nomination. Also, like President Bush, Ja'fari won the nomination and unlike Bush, his coalition won the elections in a landslide. Also, this letter at this time (after the mosque raid) is like adding fuel to a raging fire.
The paper also reported on the Shi'i reaction to the raid on the Sadr City mosque. It quoted Jawad al-Maliki, the number 2 leader in the Da'wa Party as saying, "The American forces and special forces under their command have committed a horrible crime when it raided the al-Mustafa Mosque and caused the martyrdom of tens and arrest of others, and the destruction of the mosque and the office of the Iraqi branch of the Da'wa Party." The declaration issued by the Shi'i coalition stated that, "What happened was an organized crime with dangerous political and security consequences for the purpose of creating a civil war to alter the current equation during this critical time as the government is being formed."
The paper also quoted the director of the military operations in the ministry of defense, Gen. Abdulaziz Muhammad Jasim, as saying that, "the ministry of defense has no knowledge of such raid," adding that "if our forced have participated then the ordered must have come from me, but this has not happened."
In another news, az-Zaman reported on the first tape purported to be made by Saddam's deputy, Izzat Ibrahim, urging the Arab League to support what he calls "the honorable resistance" and asking them to expel the "traitors," referring to the current Iraqi government. President Jalal Talabani, along with other Arab heads of states, did not participate in the summit which is currently hosted by Sudan and expected to focus on Iraq and, as usual, Palestine.

Inspired by the Clintonian dictum, I announce to you all, Ladies and Gentlemen: "The era of big government is" coming to Iraq. Iraqis are likely to have not one, two, three or four, but five deputies for the prime minister, according to the Iraqi semi-official paper, al-Sabah. It is amazing to have five deputies for a guy who has very little power to begin with.
Similarly, the government is likely to keep the, not one but, two ministries of education, as well as many ministries whose work can better be done by small agencies. Also, don't forget the extra-constitutional National Security Council which has 19 members and, yes, the three-member Presidential Council.
As to the number of ministries, it is based on the following (I am not kidding):
The Sunni list asked for a minimum of seven ministries, the Kurds asked for a similar number (that's 14), then the Shi'i list asked for half of the ministries (are you counting? 28 ministries so far). Then they have to give ministries to the minorities (2 Turkuman, 1 Christian and one for all others, to be decided by lottery). That's 32 ministries. Then they will see what jobs the ministers will have to perform (or don't).

Al-Sabah al-Jadid reported on a mortar attack targeting the home of Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, wounding tow people, not members of his family, it seems. The paper quoted Moqtada as urging his followers to "practice self-restraint."
In another news, the paper reported on terrorist attempt to pass candies stuffed with explosives or poisoned. They gave them mainly to school children in Yarmouk, a residential quarter in Baghdad.

Al-Mu'tamar, Ahmad Chalabi's own paper, reported that the infamous Abu Ghraib prison was vacated and the prisoners were transferred to other prisons. As to the detainees in American custody, they are going to be transferred to the detention facility in the Baghdad Airport and the arrangements will be made later to transfer them to Iraqi custody.
The paper also reported on a strong letter from Ahmad Chalabi to the Australian minister of trade, concerning the scandal of Australia bribes paid to the past regime pertaining to wheat exports to Iraq. The suspension of Australian wheat imports will, according to the paper, come in favor of American exporters.

Al-Adala, a paper close to the SCIRI (Adel Abdulmahdi and Abdulaziz al-Hakim) quoted its editor-in-chief, Adel Abdulmahdi as saying that he will not accept the position of prime minister as an alternate player of a back-up in case Ja'fari steps down as a nominee. He said that the only way he would accept the job would be when he receives "a strong mandate and a strong backing." This will not happen, not if Moqtada has anything to do with it anyway.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Iraqi official TV (al-Iraqiyya) displayed some carnage in a Shi'i mosque (husayniyyat al-Mustafa) where the men inside claim that US and Iraqi forces attacked the place during a service held for the anniversary of the Prophet's death. A man said that the attacking forces used excessive force and killed many people, including the custodian and some worshippers.

The TV said 17 people were killed although the film shows about ten men of different age categories whose ID cards show their affiliation with the Da'wa Party and the Council for Iraqi Tribes. The TV seems to condemn the act and agree with the claims from the mosque. The sub-title called the dead "martyrs," a sign of taking their side, displ;aying the film more than five times as they tried to reach Hazim al-Araji, the spokesperson of the Sadr Movement.

Jawad al-Maliki, a high-ranking member in the Shi'i coalition (UIA), claimed that the 17 people "were executed deliberately." He claimed that the forces burned the office of the Da'wa party, accusing the forces to attempt to create a political crisis. He blamed US Ambassador Khalilzad for the incident without saying why. He called for a comprehensive investigation, urging Iraqis to remain vigilant. He said that the reason given for the incident is utterly unacceptable -- the forces were said to be chasing a fugitive who was hiding in the mosque.

This can be trouble, not because of the graphic images and involvement of US forces, but because the mosque seems to be affiliated with the Sadr Movement and some of the dead belong to the Da'wa Party, the party of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari. This may be interpreted as an attack on the new coalition between Sadr and Ja'fari in the context of the formation of the new government. The US was vocal in its opposition to the nomination of Ja'afari for the position of prime minister. Sadr, in defiance of this opposition, was instrumental in Ja'fari's nomination and the likely confirmation in the job for the next four years. Let's hope for the best.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My friend, Tom, has this comment on my recent article:

"If I did not know better I would swear Abbas has been reading my blog. :) needless to say I agree with much of what he said, not all mind you, I don't know that Iraq was the safest place in the ME. We all know that the perceived safety of a police state is only an elusion, or I guess a mirage in the dessert.
If we could ask all those people in the mass graves if they were safe, what would they say? Abbas himself reported once to having seen a regime tank come to his town with the words "today there is no more Shi'a" written on the sides. There is no need to ask Abbas if he felt safe that day, he left Iraq after that and made his way here to the US. So you have to remember to read that line as relative safety. Sort of the safety of being in solitary confinement in a prison.
And the line about the Interior Ministry not being able to work effectively, we all know that left to their own device they would be engaged in a campaign of payback, not that they are not doing that now, but they would surly have made saddam's campaign against the Kurds look like a kindergarten school play. Which brings us back to the safest place in the ME line. If Iraq was so safe, then why do the Shi'a hold such a grudge against their countrymen. Seems to me that someone, at sometime must have done something to them to make them so lustful for revenge.
These comments were e-mailed to Abbas as his comment are still closed. Maybe he will grace us with a response

Hi Tom,
Glad that you continue to check in often.

I talk about oranges and you talk about apples. I do agree with your point on the repressive nature of the state in Saddam'e days. I lived through that and know it first hand. but let me remind you that Iraqis are losing up to 100 people a day as we speak. If this rate continues in the same random manner, Saddam's days will look like a piece of cake. I am sure you agree.

The point of this war -- according to the latest given rationale -- is to make things better for Iraqis. Iraq now has the same level of corruption, if not more than what was in Saddam's days; the same level of loss in Iraqi lives, if not more; and, yes, I stand by my statement: in the 24 years I lived in Iraq I never feared to be attacked on the street, kidnapped, or harmed in anyway in a day or a night at the hands of terrorists, foreign fighters or common criminals.

It seems that we told Saddam: We see your corrupt government and raise you complete chaos and lawlessness.

I don't understand, nor do I accept, the mindset that considers criticizing the current disgraceful conditions in Iraq as a tribute to Saddam's time. Far from it. The first step toward making a difference in Iraq is to rise above any comparison with Saddam, no matter what the outcome of such comparison might be.

p.s. I am interested to see that you focused on the quote from the minister of interior (a Shi'i) and ignored the similar quote from the minister of defense who is a Sunni and is not accused of abuses. He said the same thing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My article in Al-Ahram Weekly

A most caustic concurrence
Three years on, Iraq, argues Abbas Kadhim*, has become the model of what not to do

Three years ago, a coalition of mainly American and British forces made its way into Iraq along the same path of previous invasions, the south. Once again, the Shia were subjected to the hard test of a three-fold dilemma. While they did not want to die defending Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime, they were not very excited about the prospects of the imminent Anglo-American invasion of their land. The third dimension of their quandary was inspired by their 1991 experience with broken American promises, for which they paid the heaviest price among other Iraqis. Unlike the Kurds who were given a safe enclave in the north, the Shia were thrown to the wolves with complete indifference. This time around, American affirmations, pronounced by yet another George Bush, were shrugged off. The march through Iraq was not a "cake-walk" as self-appointed Iraqi opposition leaders with nominal affiliation with the country and a cursory knowledge of the real Shia sentiments prophesied.

Shocked and awed by the malfunction of their own "shock and awe" strategy, many supporters of invading Iraq jumped out of the sinking ship leaving the Bush administration scrambling for any ideas to contain a situation that was clearly spinning out of control. Adding insult to injury, months of rigorous and quite expensive search throughout the country turned no weapons of mass destruction and aside from some retired trouble- makers, there was evidence pertaining to real links between regime and any anti-American terrorism.

Indeed, the open-border policy in the first months following the invasion turned Iraq into a nest of what may as well be a chronic problem for many decades to come. The collapse of the two selling excuses for the invasion of Iraq that would fit the adventure in the larger context of the "global war on terror" forced the administration to find a reason outside the original framework of the ante-bellum period. In preparation for declaring Iraq a WMD-free country, the administration reduced any mention of them in favour of the ever- increasing oratory concerning the democratisation of Iraq in order for it to serve as a model for the entire region, which was going to catch the virus of democracy from Bahrain to Morocco. Indeed, this might be a viable theory if not for the clumsy planning and catastrophically incompetent management of Iraq ever since the country was invaded in 2003. Instead of serving as a shining model for democratic transition, Iraq has become a model of what not to do.

On the political front, and after a very rough start with 14 months of occupation ending in a partial transfer of certain responsibilities to an appointed and by all measures a very corrupt government, Iraq had three elections, including a referendum on the constitution. But the actual effects of these elections fell short of achieving anything even remotely close to the level of the expectations of Iraqi voters. After more than two months of negotiations following the January 2005 elections, the new government came as a concoction politicians recycled from the old governing bodies according to a formula unrelated to the results of the elections.

A paralysed assembly was also seated for the sole purpose of drafting a constitution, which they presented in an incomplete form to meet the strict deadline imposed on them by the transitional administrative law, among other external considerations. A semi-final draft was published and distributed to the Iraqi people, with the food ration -- which was also missing some essential items of its own. Just before the referendum was scheduled to take place, a number of changes were added to avoid a veto by three governorates.

It is unclear whether the Iraqi people actually voted for the current constitution, because the adopted version is different than the one distributed to them. As to the third elections, it remains to be seen, what sort of a mockery is going to come out of the negotiations currently underway. More than three and a half months have passed by and no government has yet been formed.

On the security level, Iraq has moved from one of the safest countries to a completely lawless place. It is impossible to believe that such lawlessness is attributable to the lack of capacity on the part of the forces on the ground. Indeed, one must take it as an insult to the American troops and their allies, including the Iraqi forces to say that they are unable to provide a bare minimum of security level in the country. The problem must indeed be attributed to the lack of will. Iraqi ministers of defence and interior have both said publicly and honestly that they are not allowed to do their job in order not to "disturb" the political process. In other words, security is being placed as a lower priority than the already dysfunctional political process with the Iraqi on the street paying the ultimate price.

Services, too, continue to be a nightmare for every Iraqi. Sitting on a sea of oil, Iraqis are unable to heat their homes, find cooking gas or fill their cars with fuel. Many Iraqis go through the trash for food or stand in humiliating long lines to receive $100 per family every three months while Iraqi oil is stolen by militias and politicians to be sold in the black market. With no metres installed -- and this is a story in its own right -- one may only guess how much oil is being exploited on a daily basis and what kind of corruption is involved. What hope remains for Iraq in any success if the Iraqis and the Americans claim that it is hard to stop ships loaded with stolen oil sailing off from Basra?

The electricity is another chronic problem for Iraqis. The service now runs approximately three hours a day for most Iraqis. It is estimated that Iraqis will not have full-day electricity any time in the foreseeable future. It would take more than $25 billion to provide adequate service through this essential field of service. The rest of reconstruction efforts are in no better shape than electricity, all wrapped in corruption, incompetence and negligence.

For Iraq to recover, three changes must take place. First, problems relevant to security and services must be considered as important as the political process. The lessons from Hurricane Katrina clearly indicate that democracy is meaningless without security and basic services. Iraqis have lived in Katrina conditions for too long and no political process is going to impress them so long as their daily life remains unchanged. Second, financial corruption and lack of accountability have to be treated immediately before any further steps in this ailing process.

The current policy of rewarding dishonesty and incompetence will lead to an imminent catastrophic end. And finally, there must be an immediate effort to address the economic deterioration of the country. This may not be done by granting victory to fundamentalist ideologies, like the implementation of sweeping privatisation, but multi-phased plan taking into consideration both the current conditions and needs in the country as well as the realistic potential of the Iraqi economy at each following stage.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Az-Zaman newspaper reported that negotiations between Iran and the United States may start as soon as next week when the ambassadors of the two countries to Iraq are supposed to meet in Baghdad. The paper quoted Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, as saying, "If Iranian officials are going to be able to express Iran's views concerning Iraq, then [I see] no reason for not doing so." The paper noted that Iraqi PM Ibrahim al-Ja'fari rejected the idea of any American-Iranian negotiations about Iraq without the presence of Iraqi representation, according to the paper.
Indeed, everyone, except for the party of Abdulaziz al-Hakim, the man behind the plan, had voiced their concern. Of course, other factions, the Shi'a, the Kurds and secular politicians are very uncomfortable with American acknowledgement of an Iranian role in Iraq.
If successful, this dialogue might be the beginning to further direct negotiations between the two countries whose relations were cut since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

The paper also reported on the news that Naji Sabri al-Hadithi, the former Iraqi foreign minister, was on the pay of the CIA through French agents. The CIA have not commented on the news reported originally by NBC. Al-Hadithi, according to the paper, called the reports "false claims," saying that "the information portrayed in this strange story is entirely false and baseless." The paper quoted him giving a speech similar to the ones he used to make during the days he was serving Saddam. The report alleges that he received $100,000 for allegedly serving two masters, but the information he gave was ignored because he told his contacts that Iraq did not have WMDs.
It is very hard to confirm such stories with all parties refusing to confirm the information. However, the "no comment" from the CIA, the fact that al-Hadithi was not arrested and tried, as he should be (he was allowed to leave Iraq to a safe location for no reason whatsoever), and the fact that his brother, who used to be a high official was killed by the Baath regime, all bode well for the information in the story, at least until the CIA enlighten us about the subject and the U.S. government provide an equally good reason for allowing him to leave Iraq instead of bringing him to justice with the rest of the Saddam's criminal gang.

Al-Mada, a paper whose parent company is headquartered in Syria reported that U.S. forces began an investigation concerning the "random shooting by U.S. forces while conducting a raid, leading to the death of Iraqi civilians." The paper reports on two different stories regarding the number of dead people. The Americans report "the death of four Iraqis including a woman and a child." The paper, however, quoted a source in the Iraqi police as saying that American forces "killed 11 people including five women, two men and four children before they destroy the house."

The paper continued its publication of Paul Bremer's book about his time in Iraq, highlighting the following sentence from Bremer:
"The only case the Governing Council worked on with record speed was the payment of salaries for its members. A sub-committee headed by [Ahmad] Chalabi proposed a very high budget, calling for $50,000 a year for each member and $4,000 for the ministers with mileage compensation for 50,000 miles a month, as David Oliver intelligently suggested, in a country with bad roads."

This, by itself should send Oliver and Bremer to court. First because these people did not drive outside the Green Zone, which is 11 miles from one end to another. It is clearly a bribe. This is the kind of work Bremer was given a medal for.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"A jury found an Army dog handler guilty Tuesday of abusing detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison by terrifying them with a military dog, allegedly for his own amusement, according to " this AP report. The jury rendered found him guilty after 18 hours of deliberation. Sentencing will come sometime later.

Al-Sabah, Iraq's semi-official paper reports on the continuing problems between the city council of Basra (south) and British forces. The council just rejected a proposal to grant British companies any investment opportunities in the oil sector, perhaps in favor of a counter proposal submitted by the Russians.

Hakim al-Mayyah, a member in the Basra city council, told the paper that "the people of Basra do not want to see British forces in the streets of their city, therefore we cannot accommodate Britain's wish in oil contracts," citing the absence of a law regulating the work of foreign companies in the country.

The decision comes as part of the boycott for British forces after the abuses of Iraqi citizens and Britain's refusal to apologize for such acts. If anything, this is an indicator that the oil of Basra is already out of the jurisdiction of the central government. Similar action is being taken in Kurdistan, where the government began negotiations with foreign companies to exploit the oil in that region. Of course, there is no legal basis for these actions by local authorities in Basra and Kurdistan. But this is only to be expected when the jurisdictions are not defined. Currently, Iraq operates according to everyone's ability to create facts on the ground or set a precedent.

The paper also reports in another article that forced migration of Sunnis from Shi'i areas and Shi'a from Sunni areas (often involving murders and other intimidation) is becoming a problem beyond toleration.

Monday, March 20, 2006

As the negotiations for establishing some sort of a government continue, Iraqis lived the third anniversary of the invasion "with apathy", according to an article by the London-based Iraqi paper, Az-Zaman. The paper quotes a press release issued by Association of Muslim Scholars, a group of politico-religious fanatics close to the insurgensy, as saying, "Everyone should note that the American project in Iraq has failed. We call not only for the schedueling of withdrawal of occupation forces, but also for paying all obligations based on the invasion."

The paper also quoted another release issued by the Islamic Party, a front for the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq, as saying, "The forces of occupation have failed to put a stop to oppression; indeed, the single oppressor has prolifirated to become many oppressors."

Hamid Majid Musa, head of the Iraqi Communist Party, told the paper, "unfortunately, the alternative for dictatorship [in Iraq] has not been established after the passing of 3 years since the past regime was overthrown."

Al-Adala, a paper close to the Supreme Concil for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) quoted Iraqi Interior Minister Baqir Jabr as saying that the call for a dialogue between Iran and the US "is not new," adding that "it was initiated four months ago and that he was part of the talks."

Al-Mu'tamar, a paper close to Ahmad Chalabi, ran an article on the catastrophic conditions of al-Husayniyya, an outskirt of Baghdad, which lives a Katrina-like life for a long time now. The official TV station, al-Iraqiyya, reported on this poor place a while ago, but there seems to be no response to the coverage of such tragedies. The reporter points out that "reed and other plants have dominated the area where stagnant water turned the entire place to a marsh." Services, or the lack thereof, can be the deal breaker for most Iraqis who are mad that after three years there life conditions are going from bad to worse.

It has been a while since I did an update. Apologies! Too many obligations.

Here is a paper I published recently in Al-Ahram Weekly.

The destruction of the shrine in Samaraa, where the two imams, Ali Al-Hadi and Al-Hassan Al-Askari, were buried, generated a tsunami of well-deserved condemnations from one end of the world to the other, until there is nothing to add or improve on what has been said. It is now time to assess the aftermath of this crime and where it left Iraq. Analysts worldwide are already proposing theories about civil war as if we are standing before a scene from Rwanda or Bosnia. Iraq is not very well, to be sure, but to speak of civil war is to show complete detachment from the realities of the country.

Iraqis were hailed for having their third democratic vote in December 2005. Yet we already began to witness several steps to separate the elections from their political consequences. At the centre of this effort is the overt participation of US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, whose visibility and conduct is more like that of Paul Bremer, the former civil administrator of Iraq during the period of official occupation. While the ambassador is perhaps trying to show the world that the US is helping with this difficult process, his involvement sends the wrong message to the people of Iraq. The plight of Iraqis in the past eight decades is a legacy of the political engineering of British king-makers who cared more about establishing a friendly government than about establishing a democracy. There is hardly any difference between then and now.

Thankfully, Iraq and the Iraqis passed the latest test very successfully. Aside from the few whose emotions overruled their better judgement, impressive levels of restraint and awareness were manifest in the conduct of leaders and the masses alike. Important and sacred as it is, the Askari shrine is less sacred than innocent human life that is, unlike shrines and monuments, irreplaceable. This has not been the first time a sacred place came under assault. The Kabaa was destroyed more than once and other shrines came under assault time and again. In the heat of Hanbali zeal, the shrine in Baghdad was levelled to the ground in the 11th century and a street was constructed through it. In the 18th century, religious fanatics destroyed the shrines in the cemetery of Madena -- never to be rebuilt -- and attacked Karbala in 1802. They destroyed shrines, stole priceless treasures and killed thousands of innocent people. Most recently, Saddam Hussein's army rampaged through the shrine cities of Kufa, Najaf and Karbala causing great damage to the golden domes and leaving pools of innocent blood all over.

Following every atrocity, Iraqis repair the damage and move on. This time will not be different. In some ways, this crime caused more good than bad. Iraqi political and religious leaders stepped in to heal the wounds. Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani stated the obvious in affirming that all mosques are the houses of God and therefore they are not fair game for angry protesters. The profile of the imams and their shrine has never been as high, now that it acquired an international fame. As a reporter told me, "One needs not be Christian to appreciate St Peter's Church." The attack offended not only Muslims, but all lovers of beauty and art as well, because these monuments were state of the art in their architecture, in addition to their spiritual value. Perhaps the perpetrators' disgraceful act came as a blessing in disguise.

Another good was the rise of upright Muslims across the world, especially the leader of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, who is to be highly commended for his integrity and genuine compassion for all Muslims. His words were badly needed at this time when the Shia are demonised and dehunmanised by fanatical clergymen and their brainwashed followers in some Muslim countries. Enormous events like the demolition of the Samaraa shrine are excellent opportunities for good people to reveal their excellence. An international conference jointly sponsored by Al-Azhar and the Shia Hawza is very timely, indeed overdue. What is happening in Iraq is a mirror image of the state of affairs in the Muslim world at large. Committees must be formed to end the sectarian strife and provide for true mutual recognition and acceptance. No legacy can be greater than being credited for setting the stage for such an accomplishment.

Muslims cannot be on good terms with the world if they are not at peace with one another. The rightful outrage of Muslims against cartoons defaming the Prophet Mohamed may seem hypocritical when combined with indifference vis-à-vis the desecration of Islamic symbols and the ongoing fratricide from one end of the Muslim world to the other. If they take their own blood and symbols lightly, they may claim no moral ground for objecting to others doing the same.

The problem of Iraq is the lack of a strong and fully sovereign government. The country now is a confederacy of incoherent and unaccountable provinces with a failing central government. City councils from Basra to Mosul are made of gangs and militias operating with no oversight or any mechanism to ensure performance or transparency. What remains of Iraq is a de facto independent Kurdistan where the laws of the central government do not apply. On the front of reconstruction and services, billions of dollars were spent without any visible change in the daily life of Iraqis. It remains to be seen how long Iraqis will endure living in sub-human conditions while their country is one of the richest in the world -- all under the insidious excuse of the lack of security, as if one failure is a valid justification of another.

If there is going to be any war in the short term, it would be an all out revolt to take the country back from the corrupt and incompetent politicians who recklessly took the people's loyalty for granted.

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