Is All Hope Lost for a Better Iraq?

Menu Opinion Sponsors

Is All Hope Lost for a Better Iraq? - by Mariwan Hama-Saeed  

When the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, we believed that our country would return to being a prosperous country and an influential political and economic player. We had lost so much to war and sanctions; we had lost millions of citizens to untreated diseases, bloodshed and displacement. One man had cost us our economy, our infrastructure and our respect from the international community. 

I was a junior at the University of Sulaimania when the Saddam regime fell and began working as a translator with news organizations. When Saddam was in power I had never traveled further than a two hour drive from my hometown. After the war, I traveled through many parts of Iraq and learned about my country. 

My work gave me the opportunities to meet more Iraqis. The quotes I heard still echo in my ears. The people were hopeful, even elated, about Iraq's new era.  

But within six months, people began questioning the lack of progress. Services such as electricity and water only deteriorated, and security cost lives and economic development.     

The rehabilitation of Iraq's crumbling infrastructure was poorly executed and has virtually stopped. Unemployment rose. Thanks to violence, kidnappings and threats, many of Iraq's historically mixed sectarian neighborhoods and cities gradually divided or have disappeared altogether.  

And things are only getting worse. Nearly four years after we celebrated Saddam's fall, violence ravages my country, Iraq is divided along sectarian lines and our best and brightest are fleeing to other lands. When I look back, I only feel disappointment. 

The new leaders, whom we hoped would bring about democracy and freedom, continue to neglect the needs of the people. They instead have built their own militias in order to use them to achieve power.  

We have had three elections, but almost all of them were troubled with fraud. For example, I was not at home for one of the elections but my family voted for me. A fellow journalist interviewed a 12-year-old boy who voted 17 times. These stories were common.  

The new Iraqi police and army are not seen as protectors of the Iraqi people, but rather a source of income for the militias. Many of the police and military forces follow the orders of their militias and are accused of torturing individuals and having secret jails. U.S. and British forces have also tortured prisoners. Foreign fighters, insurgents and so-called Islamists are killing Iraqis for no reason. 

Iraq has been a land of opportunity for many people, but few of them are Iraqis. Foreigners make upwards of tens of thousands dollars per month in the Green Zone, and private security companies are making millions. Meanwhile, the average Iraqi's salary is barely above the poverty line, according to the U.S. State Department. 

Almost all the international companies that are supposedly rehabilitating Iraq have stopped operating and no one knows what happened to the money. The projects are, for the most part, shoddy or incomplete. The U.S. must track the billions of dollars that have gone missing from rehabilitation projects. The rehabilitation process should increase in somewhat stable areas such as the south and north.  

This is not what I and other Iraqis expected.  

Iraqis are suffering immense pain, loss, fear and horrible living conditions. Iraqis are fleeing the violence and hoping to find opportunities elsewhere. Millions are now in Syria and Jordan.  

Yet the only issue Americans want to address is whether the United States should pull out its forces. That is not the only question at hand.  

I don't support an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, but the United States needs to change its Iraq policy. The country needs to be secure, but we also need opportunities and better living conditions. With proper electricity and water, better leadership and jobs, security would improve.  

Giving Iraqis the better lives that they hoped for in 2003 is the only way to turn things around. We have thus far faced only disappointments, but I still cling to the hope that somehow, Iraq can survive.   

Mariwan Hama-Saeed is the Kurdish editor for the Institute for war and Peace Reporting/Iraq and a master's candidate in journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of Kurdish Aspect

Top of page


Awene The most admired Independent Kurdish Newspaper from the heart of Kurdistan.

Khatuzeen Center For Kurdish Women’s Issues

From Holland to Kurdistan Non-Kurd blogging on Kurdistan

Klawrojna An Independent Online Kurdish-English Newspaper

American Express
Apple Store
Design a Mobile Website
View Site in Mobile | Classic
Share by: