Is Iraq going backwards?

Iraq bomb

Iraq is still coming to grips with the deadliest series of attacks in the country this year, which left 95 people dead in the capital Baghdad yesterday. 
And as they reel from those horrors, yet another bomb has reportedly has gone off near a restaurant today, killing another two people.

The prime minister, Nouri Maliki, called Wednesday’s bombings “a desperate attempt to derail the political process” in Iraq and has ordered a security review.  But will a security review make any difference?

An upsurge in violence was always expected in Iraq. At the time President Obama warned of “difficult days ahead“. But are Wednesday’s devastating attacks far more than that?  Does this violence show that Iraq is infact going backwards?

On Monday, General Ray Odierno, the top US soldier in Iraq, said he wants to station more US troops in the north of the country to prevent further violence between Arabs and Kurds. With American troops due out of the country altogether by the end of 2011, does his call indicate that everyone’s worst fears could be realised – that the country is unable to stand on its own?

36 Responses to “Is Iraq going backwards?”

  1. 1 steve
    August 19, 2009 at 14:11

    All these dead over fairy tales from around the year 800 AD.

  2. 2 Nick in Tacoma (U.S)
    August 19, 2009 at 14:57

    U.S. foreign policy has made messes in many countries around the world. It is going to take time to right the wrongs. Unfortunately more people can be expected to be hurt as things progress. The important thing is to watch and build the long term indicators of progress. If people have homes, jobs, public infrastructure and contact with the rest of the world, it will become harder for those who fight with terror to hide. Yes, this will cost money and the U.S. needs to start thinking outside the box to find sources of income to fix the messes it created.

  3. 3 Tom K in Mpls
    August 19, 2009 at 15:00

    Iraq’s worst enemy is it’s people. Outside groups play on that for their own power. This will only end when the religious sects merge. And we all know the odds of that. A more realistic path is to allow Iraq to split to the borders it had before British colonization. This would greatly reduce the violence, but nothing will stop it.

  4. 4 Nuala
    August 19, 2009 at 15:06

    On going backwards, would like to point out Human Rights Watch report of systematic torturing and killing of gay Iraqi men which has intensified in recent months. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ibgfnvsDJUDFzb1wjDjZorhS-IUwD9A4GF000

  5. 5 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 19, 2009 at 15:09

    Iraq is going backwards. Actually ever since the invasion they were going backward because the tenuous peace was predicated on the coalition forces being in the country.

  6. August 19, 2009 at 15:38

    Iraq is a quagmire and will continue to be a dangerous place. Terrorists are busy trying to destabilize the country as American troops prepare to pull out. The initial decision to go into Iraq by the Bush Administration was a wrong one. American troops need to concentrate on the Taliban and al Qaeda menace in Afghanistan. The Iraqi government needs to look after its own security. Perhaps other Arab nations should help Iraq. Americans cannot be expected to be the world’s policemen!

  7. 7 Anthony
    August 19, 2009 at 15:53

    Backwards, was it ever going forward from the point before we (the U.S.) went in? Well, at least we got those WMD’s and stopped the terror…..opps, never mind.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  8. August 19, 2009 at 16:17

    Salaam… Today I was at our hospital when those horrific terrorist attacks took place… I just want to make a number of points here : Today I was at our hospital when those horrific attacks took place, but tomorrow Inshallah I’ll be going back to our hospital, and so will all of my close girlfriends, colleagues, teachers, and follow-doctors… My sis went today to her workplace, and tomorrow Inshallah she’ll also go to her workplace, and so will all of her co-workers… Today’s bombings were by all standards a huge catastrophe and a horrific tragedy, but let me make this perfectly clear : We won’t quit living as long as we can breathe… Also Iraq’s worst enemy isn’t its people, Iraq’s worst enemies are Al Qaeda gangs, Baathist gangs, its corrupt and sectarian political parties and also its neighbours who do not want to see it peaceful and prosperous. Also we do not blame the current deterioration in the security situation on the withdrawal of the US occupation forces from our cities, b/c when the American occupiers were there on the ground, catastrophes larger than this one took place and they did absolutely nothing to stop them from happening… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    • 9 Tom K in Mpls
      August 19, 2009 at 17:29

      Baathist gangs, sectarian political parties and Sunni gangs *are* Iraqi people. They are the problem. Al Qaeda and your neighbors manipulate them to their ends. I won’t pretend to know the solution, but you need an honest diagnosis before you can solve the problem.

    • 10 Paddy
      August 19, 2009 at 22:48


      God bless you. Your simple courage is really the most effective weapon against terrorism. By refusing to be afraid you take away the only true weapon that these thugs have; the power to intimidate.

      Please don’t refer to the Americans as occupiers. I served in Iraq and will be going back shortly. I pray that I will be able to help my own country (US) by assisting the good people of Iraq in restoring order and ridding their country of the vile salafi and criminal scum who would try and sew the seeds of aggression and mistrust among the Iraqi people. These people are my enemy as well as yours. I know that many other Americans have gone to your county with the same intent, only to come home crippled, or worse. God bless, I pray for you and for Iraq.

  9. August 19, 2009 at 16:18

    I believe since the invasion of Iraq it went backwards and has not left that state. Iraq has since been backwards from that day. Maybe the effort or strategies being applied to raise it from her backwards state is yet to succeed. I think it is time that we all rally around Iraq with those good ideas which could help them live side by side as same human family.

  10. 12 nora
    August 19, 2009 at 18:29

    Lubna brings us back to reality. It is so easy to spin generalizations, but it takes love and fortitude to make culture. Lubna and her girlfriends are making culture fresh every day. May they be safe.

  11. 13 Bert
    August 19, 2009 at 18:30

    This is exactly what was wrong with the Cheney/Rumsfled Iraq policy of the previous administration. It was not understanding that after deposing Saddam, just this sort of thing would happen. At the time, I found it surprisingly ignorant of them.

    Heaven forbid we should use these attacks as an excuse to move US troops back. The article points out that the targets of these ongoing attacks are mostly poor Shia neighborhoods, and guesses that Sunni groups, or Al Qaeda-led Sunni groups, are responsible.

    Iraqis need to take care of this, and the Islamists the woirld over need to quit pretending that it is US-supported Israel that is at the heart of their problems. Iraqi citizens need to flush out these people from their neighborhoods. Surely, they live somewhere, right? We do not need to regress to having US troops bursting into homes, to provide this service.

  12. August 19, 2009 at 18:33

    I never expected Iraq to become the perfect place in a few months,or even a few years. But with attitudes like Lubna’s it can only go foward,I’m quite sure he is not alone in his attitude. The diehards will not go away overnight. For goodness sake, give them a chance to proove themselves and do not be so disparaging. Miracles stopped donkeys years ago!

  13. 15 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    August 19, 2009 at 19:00

    No.Iraqis no where their destination is because they are the people responsible for their own country to decides whether to re-builds or destroy their own future & the future of their families….!(ST)

  14. 16 gary
    August 19, 2009 at 19:27

    The abscissa of time becomes ever more positive. The ordinate, which may have positive values, negative values, or disappear completely (best to avoid this), defines the human condition. Few would suggest Iraq has accrued significant benefits from passing of the last decade. I pray daily that their share of happiness will improve.

  15. 17 Alec Paterson
    August 19, 2009 at 21:51

    Iraq is an artificial arrangement created by Sir Percy Cox and the British in 1920, from the Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Do you think there is single reason why the Kurds, who have a distinct culture, language, and history, and who have suffered dispossession, mass murder, and grand theft of their natural resources, should wish to remain, or could be persuaded to remain, as part of Iraq? Many Kurdish areas, including Mosul had large influxes of Sunni Arabs (settlers) sent by the Baghdad. The Shia will not accept a Sunni dominated Iraq, when they are 65% of the population
    The bombings are most likely the work of Sunnis who are simply trying to impress on the government of Nour al-Maliki that he has to give the Sunnis more f what they want. And if he gives them more of what they want, they will be encouraged to continue to bomb even more, in order to get even more. It is Islam that explains the bombs yesterday, and today, and those that will continue to explode long after the Americans, possibly at least in Iraq coming to their senses, leave. Its focus on violence, aggression and the inability of compromise affects their dealings, with not only the Infidel enemy but other Muslims of different sectarian or ethnic groups.

  16. August 19, 2009 at 22:04

    The concept “War on Terror” is totally flawed, in fact, ridiculous.
    To quote:
    Violence breeds violence.
    The only thing we learn from history is that nations never learn from history.

    Thirty-odd years after Vietnam ……….

    Thirty years after Iraq & Afghanistan, will the Anglophone nations lead another invasion, waving a flag of convenience labelled Democracy ?
    Should we ask Poland, for example, whether more is achieved by pragmatism, fortitude, & patience; or by armed conflict ?

  17. 19 T
    August 19, 2009 at 23:36

    The U.S. will always be in Iraq. Why does it take years and years for Iraqi security forces to be trained? Because the States always change the “standards” to be judged by. This means that the private contractors, security firms and others will continue to make billions.

  18. 20 T
    August 19, 2009 at 23:40

    In Afghanistan, there’s a law that says that men can starve and kill their wives for refusing them sex. Yet, Obama sees no problem in trying to save these people for democracy. How then is this “respecting” other cultures like Obama mentioned in his Cairo speech?

  19. 21 Tan Boon Tee
    August 20, 2009 at 04:39

    How could Iraq be not on a reverse gear with such impossible and utterly unacceptable endless carnage happening almost every alternate day?

    One would have thought the government is already in a commanding position to take care of the Iraqis (especially in terms of security) after the first withdrawal of Americans, the incessant huge explosions of the bombs cruelly shattered the illusion.

    Why must Muslims continue massacre their own brethrens remorselessly?

    (imk & btt1943)

  20. 22 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 20, 2009 at 10:49

    @Alec Paterson
    Great insight that shows the historical end of the bombings re: the sectarian violence. To solve these problems an analysis of the history of Iraq will be a potent tool.

    @ Mary Schramm

    Your ruminations have made me have some deeper questions:

    Why do we never learn from history?

    Specifically do the US and UK have ulterior motives for entering Iraq and Afghanistan?

    What are the real reasons for invading Iraq and Afghanistan?

  21. August 20, 2009 at 10:55

    No disrespect intended to anyone, but my impression is that the problem is that Islam has not had a Reformation. It is religious insanity that prevents peace.

  22. 24 Keith
    August 20, 2009 at 11:48

    @ pdxmike

    Islam is a good religion, there is nothing wrong with islam. I am a hindu and I love islam. The violence is Iraq has nothing to do with islam. Geographical regions evolve political orders based on what the environment demands as necessary for the people to survive in those areas. Under Sadam Hussein Iraq was doing well except when the USA led an embargo against the people of Iraq in the 90’s. Sadam kept the peace and he was a good ruler(don’t believe the lies people say about him). So people in Iraq are dying because the USA disrupted the natural order of things and when the natural order of things gets disrupted the result is that people die because the system that maintained there survival is destroyed. It is good for people to be social activists in various areas such as human right and animal rights. But it is not good for people to destroy political orders in various places such as Iraq. Another example of deaths arising from disruptive behavior is the deaths at the recent protests in Iran. No one should have encouraged those people to continue in their protests. It is acceptable to criticize the power in a proper manner but do not fight the power.

  23. 25 Ibrahim in UK
    August 20, 2009 at 11:55

    The problem is that the wrong questions are being asked:
    Are they Kurds, Sunnis or Shi’ites?

    Look back to when Baghdad was last successful and a beacon of progress. That was during Islamic rule where nationality, sect, race, tribe etc did not detract nor add to the value of a person. Where “the ink of a scholar is worth more than the blood of a martyr”
    The failure of Iraq today and many other nations in the Middle East is that they abandoned the formula that made them united and successful.

  24. 26 VictorK
    August 20, 2009 at 12:50

    Yes. And it will only stop when a revenant Saddam restores order. An important lesson for Bush-Blair-‘Bama-Brown meddlers re places like North Korea & Burma: a dictatorial regime isn’t the worse thing that can happen to a country.

    @pdxmike: but Islam has had a reformation, namely the Mu’tazilite movement, a school of philosophers and theologians that – ironically – existed in Basra and Baghdad between the 8th and 10th centuries. They attempted to modernise Islam by borrowing from Greek rationalism, rejected the orthodox view that the Koran was the word of Allah, and stressed free will and individual responsibility. In 833 their doctrine was forcibly imposed on all his subjects by the Caliph Al-Ma’mun (one of whose concerns, interestingly enough, was to reconcile differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims). The death of Al-Ma’mun later in the same year led to the restoration of Sunni orthodoxy. Islam’s reformation failed then & for 1200 years the religion has proved resistant to a second attempt.

    To those Westerners who continue to pin their hopes on an Islamic reformation: too late. It already happened, it failed, it won’t happen again.

  25. 27 VictorK
    August 20, 2009 at 13:29

    @Ibrahim: the early history of Islam is much more complex, and interesting, than you seem to realise.

    There were, for instance, from the first contact between the two groups, deep racial antagonisms between Arabs and Persians, to the extent that the Persians (who deserve credit as THE engine of culture and civilisation in Islam) developed their own variety of Islam, Shi’ism, rather than participate with the Arabs in Sunni orthodoxy (q.: to what extent are Iraq’s Shi’ites also ethnic Persians? It would explain a lot).

    The political divisions in the Muslim world are ancient. In 950, to take a random year, different regions were ruled by different dynasties: Abbasids, Umayyads, Idrisids, Samanids, Fatimids, Buyids, etc.

    People looking for a solution to the Muslim world’s problems should surely start from the facts, not an ideal based either in the past or the future (i.e. the kind of commitment to unreality that fuels much of the violence in places like Iraq).

  26. August 20, 2009 at 13:38

    @ Keith, would Sadam Husseins good rule include the gassing of Kurdish villagers? We saw the photographs!

  27. August 20, 2009 at 13:46

    The Iraqi people will have to start believing in their own government. The government on their part should go all out to provide adequate security and good governance. The Iraqi police and army will obviously need more training. America and its allies could continue to train Iraqis with intensive traing, from six months to a year, either in Iraq itself or in the foreign military academies. This could form the backbone of the Iraqi defence forces. American forces could then leave Iraq in the early part of 2010 with the Iraqis in charge of their own future. There is no other way out!

  28. 30 Steve in Boston
    August 20, 2009 at 15:07


    I’m glad you and your countrymen see no connection between the American troop withdrawal and the increase in violence in Iraq. I wouldn’t want to feel that our departure put Iraqi citizens in any increased danger. I’m sure the Iraqi defense forces will do a better job than we did, inasmuch as we were so ineffective, and many of us in America. like you, are quite happy that we are less involved in that quagmire.

    Best of luck to you.

    • August 20, 2009 at 16:20

      Hi Steve… The lack of relationship between the withdrawal of the US occupation forces from our cities and the deteriorating security situation on the ground in my Iraq isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact supported by figures and news stories… Kindly go back in time to the happy old days of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and you’ll see how secure my Iraq used to be and how safe my fellow Iraqi citizens used to feel during the presence of the US occupation forces on the ground in our cities, so yeah, the occupiers did a wonderful job at keeping us safe and keeping our country secured, Oh, I am soooooo overwhelmed with gratitude to the extent that tears started to collect in my eyes !!!

  29. August 20, 2009 at 16:10

    Salaam… And here we go again, that’s right, just start to bash Islam and its followers… What’s been happening in my Iraq over the past few years is simply pure politics and a matter of conflicting interests and struggle over power and wealth, and the only role religion is playing is being used by those involved as a cover-up and an excuse for real intentions and causes standing behind all of this mess and madness… I am practicing Muslim Shia, and I do have very close girlfriends who are practicing Muslim Shias, practicing Muslim Sunnis, practicing Christians, ect., ect.,. My relationship with them has never changed over the years despite everything that has happened… BTW, today our group had a pediatric surgery clinical exam, and we all did very well in it, in our group there’re students from different religious sects and ethnic backgrounds, and we’re ALL IRAQIS, but unfortunately some people just won’t understand that, b/c they’ve never been through what we’ve been through, and that’s why they’re making absurd generalised assumptions about a country from which the 1st ever written letter came out while what is called now “The Free World” used to be drowning in darkness !

  30. 33 patti in cape coral
    August 20, 2009 at 20:25

    Hi Lubna – I had a post to you, but it disappeared. I tried very hard to say what I wanted to and not be offensive in any way. Maybe it was too long or a little off topic, or maybe came across as condescending. In any case, I will just say in this post that I am very sorry at the trouble you have had to witness, and I hope your country can find its way towards peace.

    It is good to hear that you have friends of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. That isn’t usually the picture I get, so it is good to get it out of the horse’s mouth. Take care.

  31. 34 scmehta
    August 21, 2009 at 06:44

    No, Iraq is not going backwards. It is being hindered or obstructed by the terrorists and extremists from going forward.

  32. 35 Ibrahim in UK
    August 21, 2009 at 12:43

    Salaam Lubna,
    Ramadan Mubarak. I pray that this Holy month brings you safety, health, peace, unity, and happier days ahead. May many others be influenced by your optimism and determination and join you on the path to improve Iraq and unite it’s people.

    The success of Islam in the early days was to accept all these different cultures and races, bring them together into a positive influence. The fact that Persians contributed so much to Islamic civilisation, that a Kurdish general liberated Palestine from the Crusaders, that Jews contributed so much and even experienced their Golden Age under Islam is a far cry from the attitude of today which is based on rejection and division.
    There will always be differences between people, no one is identical to another. Islam does not expect or make everyone to be a clone. It expects reconciliation between differences.
    Glimpses of the all-embracing character in Iraq and the Middle East may exist in individuals like Lubna but there are too many people who strive for a power base built on differences.

  33. 36 Alec Paterson
    August 21, 2009 at 13:40


    You are a bit naive if you think that religion has no role in the current situation and past history of Iraq.
    Islam combines the interior comfort provided by religious faith with the outward power of a world-transforming political ideology. Like the revolutionary violence of Communism, jihad offers an altruistic justification for waging death and destruction. Such an ideology will naturally draw to it violent-minded people while encouraging the non-violent to take up arms themselves or support violence indirectly. Because something is popular hardly makes it benign..
    By the way it was in southern Mesopotamia, and it was the Sumerians that produced the cuneiform script. Thousands of years before the arrival of the Arabs and Islam.

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