Thursday, March 29, 2012

Iraq: Inside a failed state

NINE years ago last week, on March 20, 2003, the US and its allies, including Britain and Australia, launched the illegal invasion of Iraq.

All of the pretexts used to justify the war were lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction and no links between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

The protracted American-led occupation resulted in an autocratic, pro-US regime, the deaths of a million Iraqis, and an enormous social and economic regression.

Today, nine years after US troops toppled Saddam Hussein and just a few months after the last US soldier left the devastated country, Iraq has become something close to a failed state.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presides over a system rife with corruption and brutality, in which political leaders use security forces and militias to repress enemies and intimidate the general population.

The law exists as a weapon to be wielded against rivals and to hide the misdeeds of allies. The dream of an Iraq governed by elected leaders answerable to the people is rapidly fading away.

The Iraqi state cannot provide basic services, including regular electricity in summer, clean water, and decent health care; meanwhile, unemployment among young men hovers close to 30 percent, making them easy recruits for criminal gangs and militant factions.

Although the level of violence is down from the worst days of the civil war in 2006 and 2007, the current pace of bombings and shootings is more than enough to leave most Iraqis on edge and deeply uncertain about their futures. Read More