A guest post by Dr. Marwan Odeesh. Dr. Odeesh was born, raised, and educated in Baghdad, Iraq. This post is his perspective on the situation in Iraq, and the United States’ involvement. Please read carefully and reflectively.
Politically speaking, the Iraqi-Iranian War actually started in 1980 when Sadam Hussein, the former Iraqi President, ignited tensions as he became the ruler of Iraq. Once he was President, Sadam disregarded the Algerian Agreement he signed when he was the Vice President. When he was Vice President, Sadam and the Shaah regime in Iran, fairly divided the regional water (aka, the Arabian River). Until 1975, the regional water was collected entirely by Iraq as the main Iraqi source of oil. Iraq had full control and sovereignty of the regional water from coast to coast. In 1975, or so, the Shah’s regime pressed hard for Iraq to sign the deal by arming the scattered Kurdish Militias in the northern part of Iraq, encouraging them to fight against the Iraqi central government The Shah’s regime encouraged the Kurds to have their own autonomy, as a separate ethnic group, with their own heritage. If they could cut the northern part of Iraq off from Baghdad, were the Iraqi government was located, the Shah’s regime would be cutting a major portion of Iraq’s rich oil fields from the central government of Iraq.
Sadam used the tactic of the Shah’s regime to isolate the former Iraqi President. Sadam’s plan worked and the Bath party pronounced him as Iraqi’s new President. Once he was president, Sadam negatively responded to the Kurds’ claim of autonomy and he disregarded the Algerian Pact. Soon thereafter, Sadam started a war with Iran that lasted 8 years.
Religiously speaking, Iraq is made up of two major branches of Islam, the Sheeites and the Sunis. The Sheeites are the majority and dominant group, with 65-70% of the population. The Sheeite population in Iran is more than 90%, and so the Sheeites in Iraq thought the war with Iran was unfair. This sentiment became stronger once the Shaah of Iran was overthrown and the Iranian Islamic Republic was formed. This happened close to the time that Sadaam, a Suni sectarian leader, came to power.
The people in the middle and southern cities of Iraq, most of whom are Sheeites, thought the conflict with Iran to be unfair because Sadam had brought the two main Sheeite forces in the region to be at odds with each other, leading them to fight one another, and in the long run, if the conflict continued, leading them to extinction.
Despite Iran being the main domain for Sheeites, the Iraqi Sheeites considered the dawn of their Islamic belief to be born in Iraq, and this is a true historical fact. It is for this reason that the Iranians are considered a good resource for the Iraqi annual income of pilgrimage/religious tourism. Yes pilgrimage; Saudi Arabia bears roughly two million Suni pilgrims a year. Iraq gets roughly the same number of pilgrims a year from the Iranian Sheeites.
Historically, since before biblical times, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Persia (Iran) has been a zone of continual conflict. This has been true throughout history. Kingdoms reign and kingdoms raid each other, taking advantage of the weakness of the other and vice versa. An intermingling of honor, love, and war has been the history and heritage of both Iran and Iraq. We Iraqis still have many remains of the ruins of Persian kingdoms near Baghdad, my home city.
And now concerning the United States: At times Iraqi citizens have viewed the United States as a deliverer from the toils of war that have drained humanity from our country. When the United States entered into war with Iraq, we Iraqis knew it was not a war President Bush started in retaliation against Sadam because of Sadam’s threats against Pres. Bush’s father. We also knew the war wasn’t waged because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or because Iraq was any type of threat to the United States, even though the mass media tried to portray the reasons for war as such. Furthermore, even though the Iraqi regime was religiously hostile against Iran and Israel, and even though Iraq’s relationships with her neighboring countries was not going well, we knew for a fact that the reason for the war was the United States concern for oil, and only their concern for oil.
When American heroic troops reached Baghdad, took down the tyrant, and raised the American flag, they left all the countries ports open for terrorists to come in. Furthermore, they left all the governmental ministries, official, civil organizations, infra structures, and hospitals exposed and wide open for burglary, sabotage and explosion. They only protected one lone building in Baghdad; yes, you guessed it, it was the Ministry of Oil building. Many, many enemies of Iraq used this situation to extract revenge. Others found this grave situation to be wonderful opportunity to fight the U.S. military, since they were so close.
Despite everything, we still had hope that the United States would take the oil and let the Iraqi people live. Instead, the United States lengthened the post war trauma, by draining as much oil as possible and by trying to establish a supposedly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, democratic government. Unfortunately, democracy didn’t happen because when you force democracy on people, it is no longer democracy.
The mentality of the Iraqi people is rough, rugged, and old, filled with anger and religious sectarian prejudice. On the other hand, democracy is a subjective feeling of celebrating mutualism that should be sensed from within, despite our differences. You cannot force democracy on a people whose mentality has not changed. As a result, democratic efforts in Iraq were buried before they had the opportunity to grow in the rugged, full of hatred, mentality in my wealthy but unfortunate country.
By going to war with Iraq, the United States tried to recycle her own stagnated economy, and then they got bumped by the reality of an even worse recessing economy after a war that drained the United States, rather than flourishing her.
What goes around comes around.
In the mean time, Iraqis have buried their hopes of freedom from Sadam, better civil rights, democratic government, and a safe life, in the old dirt of new faces but the same corruption and hatred.
The United States military left their impossible mission unfinished. The only winner in all of this, in my humble opinion, is Iran. Now that the American troops have left, Iran is enjoying Iraq being served up to them on a golden platter.
(Endnote: Marwan is a personal friend of mine. He studied medicine at the University of Baghdad, but because of religious persecution, he and his family left Iraq in July of 2007. They did not arrive in the United States until May of 2009. Marwan is in the process of completing examinations so he can practice medicine in the States. He is a devout Christian and a wonderful Bible teacher. I have learned a lot from him, and other Iraqi Christians, about the situation in their home country from their perspective. Please share this blog with as many people as you know.)