Here’s a quote from the first e-mail i opened today :
“the atmosphere down here is feverish and electric, like a huge celebration or something, there’s a mixture of joy, pride, fear, and apprehension.”
The e-mailer is Lubna, our long time WHYS friend and contributor, studying medicine in Baghdad. For many of the WHYS community we’ve seen the story in Iraq through Lubna’s eyes.
We’ve heard her optimism drain away when she lost close friends in the violence that engulfed the country for a period and she told us how for a period of months she was effectively housebound because it was too dangerous to go out. Now, she describes the mood in her part of the city as the U.S troops withdraw from Baghdad and other major cities across the country. The troops won’t disappear altogether until 2011 but today is a big day none the less. It’s been declared National Soveriegnty Day and the Iraqi government says it marks the beginning of the end of the American invasion and a “great victory ” .( a form of words which hasn’t pleased everyone in the U.S administration). A day that’s seen their forces suffer another 4 losses : making more than 4,300 deaths in their ranks since 2003.
Update: Joining Lubna on the programme today will be MJ, an American mother who lost her soldier son in Iraq – she thinks the withdrawal of troops from urban areas will be a disaster. Also, Taghreed who lives in Erbil in the North – she agrees with MJ. Our fourth guest will be John, an American soldier who served for four years in Iraq, two as an Army Major and two as a consultant – he thinks the withdrawal to base is a good thing.
So are you celebrating along with many Iraqis today? Is Iraq in a better place than it was six years ago? Or are you, like some commentators, including the Iraqi Interior Minister, worried that “June 30 is not an historical endpoint to be celebrated by political philosophers; it is the beginning of a highly uncertain chapter in Iraqi democracy and self-governance.”
Are you happy with direction Iraq is moving in as it moves towards full sovereignty? Let’s not forget that the Iraqi president was the second world leader to rush to congratulate President Ahmedinejad’s victory, that ten people died only yesterday in a car bomb in Mosul, and alongside the 4,300 grieving families in the U.S, there are thousands too, grieving in Iraq.
Today we’re going to gather together a small group of people who have lived through the US troop presence most personally – Iraqis and Americans, including, of course, Lubna.
Post your questions or comments to them here, and of course you own feelings about what the last six years have brought, and the road that lies ahead.