Claud Monbar writes from Baghdad: Car bombs killed around 50 people in Iraq this past weekend, and wounded, at the very least, 100 others.
Iraq did you say? Isn’t that where we all went to save the Iraqis from some dictator called Saddam Something? Now the TV networks no longer report from there. The memory dims. Of course it does – thank goodness for that.
Iraq was the very place we were instrumental in hanging Saddam Hussein, the tyrant, dictator, psychopath (we called him all those things) in December 2006. Job done, we said, although we were a bit embarrassed about the televised event.
But we did get rid of him, didn’t we? Yes we did. And we got rid of the other guy, Gaddafi? Yes we did. But what’s that you say, the Libyans are still killing each other? I’m afraid they are.
Iraq is a place of terrible killing. It happens most days, certainly weeks. Every month so far this year in Iraq there’s been a mortar bomb, car bomb or some similar attack on Shias and security people. On one day this weekend, eight died when a car bomb went off in Taji, the mainly Sunni town north of Baghdad, almost at the same time as others were dying in the capital itself, and Shia pilgrims were wounded – some of whom may still die – in Madain. Just another day.
The real targets are said, by government and regional officials, to be security forces and not civilians. Certainly this is not seen as an internecine war. Really? Then how come the first bomb in Taji was in a Shia area and the one in Madain went off alongside a bus carrying Iranian (Shia) pilgrims. Mind you, a car bomb did kill six and maim ten by a police patrol in Kut on Sunday but not all the casualties were police.
When we all cut and ran from Iraq (sorry, withdrew of course) most wise heads nodded in agreement with the idea that the rival groups were simply waiting for the last American to switch off the lights so that the Shia and Sunni could get down to killing each other. The vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi is a Sunni. He’s on the run because he’s been found guilty of terrible treason and could even be hanged in Iraq. So every time a Shia dies, Hashemi’s people are blamed.
Iraq is being rubbled and the people are in terror many days of the week. We knew it would happen. We could not get out quickly enough.
In Libya, where the central authority really is attempting to get control, open murder and gun crime is greater than when the horrid colonel was in charge. But, thanks to our remote control part in his downfall, ie drone attacks, we are not lumbered with brigades on the ground that we have to pull out as soon as is decent – perhaps not really even that.
We all know about the sleeping chaos and mayhem in Afghanistan which is gathering its strength for the big push when the coalition troops pull out in 2014. For those who believe the NATO PR men when they say the ANA etc will control the ambitions of the assorted Taliban, militia, and warlords, just do not forget why we are leaving.
We leave not because we believe we can safely hand back the security of Afghanistan to its people. Not at all. We leave because we cannot fix Afghanistan – just as we could not fix Libya and Iraq.
We, mostly Western military and political decision makers, should have stayed away from other peoples’ wars without advancing in some imperial fashion into other countries in order to protect our interests while pretending to protect those of the people whom eventually we leave in the lurch. There’ll be other wars and we may even start them. The desperately sad thing is that we are not loyal to our friends and we never learn. Even sadder, the mourners at the Iraqi graves this morning know that.