Monday, March 20, 2006

The third anniversary...sacrifice, fear and hope.

It has been three years since 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' began and for three years we debated whether the decision was right or wrong and until this moment we have different feelings and opinions about where this operation brought us and where its aftermaths are going to lead us.

This disputed operation no doubt had-and will continue to have-major effects on the future of the region and the rest of the world and it's not limited to the boundaries of Iraq; a fact that makes rational debate legitimate by all standards.

To me, each anniversary brings emotions, thoughts and expectations; some are personal and others are for the future of my country and people. Today I relive those historic moments and remember the way my mind accepted and welcomed those moments like all, or say most Iraqis did as we were praying to see Saddam overthrown without even bothering to think of the consequences or results…all we wanted was to see Saddam out of power, period.

Maybe people still remember how Iraqis first reacted to the change; they directed their rage against anything that reminded them of the regime they hated, burning and looting anything that represented Saddam and his regime. The rich and the poor both stormed those buildings because those angry crowds felt those buildings were Saddam's property and few of us realized at that time that that was wrong yet the emotions driving it were understandable.

The smoke faded away and we woke up to see all the chains gone and instead of the God-president and his iron grip over our destinies, we found ourselves without a guide, without any guidance but our long buried primitive nature, the long repressed nature of loving freedom and practicing it.

The change began then, at that moment where reason mixed with sentiments; were we free…or, were we lost?

Actually it was a lot of both and there was also a sense of great relief that the terrifying warnings from hundreds of thousands of deaths, famine and mass refugees were not true at that point, on the contrary the military operation itself was clean and successful by all standards and didn't cause any serious harm to the civilian population, the infrastructure, or the marching troops.

Saddam was gone and suddenly Iraqis and Americans found themselves face to face in a place that felt new to both of them. They knew almost nothing about each other as the prison Saddam built around us left the world with little knowledge about Iraqis except for the whispers of Iraqis who fled the horrors of the tyrant.
On the other hand, all that Iraqis knew about America was that it's the merciless enemy of Muslims and Arabs, the invader coming for oil, the all-time supporter of Israel against the Palestinians, the imposer of the sanctions and above all, the America that let us down in 1991.

Now the two strangers had to work together to accomplish a goal Iraqis knew almost nothing about; they knew that America wanted to topple Saddam and secure the oil fields but that's all they knew while America was thinking of a huge transformation for the entire Middle East with Iraq being the key to that transformation.
There was a wide gap between the two but we had no choice but to work together, because in a moment Iraqis didn't choose, America and a group of Iraqi ex-pat leaders were suddenly replacing a regime that controlled everything for too long.
Iraqis were confused and vulnerable and there were too many differences to cope with but we were there and there was nothing we could do about it and we had to prepare ourselves for many transitional stages that some Iraqis thought were improvised and arbitrary while others thought were planned long time ago.

The question keeps ringing…
Was it the right decision to remove Saddam?

I say yes, and that's what most Iraqis said and still say even if they became divided over what happened later…the truth is that virtually no one wants Saddam back.

I will just ignore the weepers, whiners, teenagers and half educated naïve people and their silly rallies as I don't want to waste time on people who can do nothing but blindly oppose everything without thinking.
I will ignore them and focus on the more important goals we want to reach here…

Life stopped and time stopped when Saddam ruled Iraq, actually that totalitarian regime was moving backwards and dragging us with it and nothing could stop the deterioration that began the moment Saddam came to power.
We had to accept the change and live with all that would come along with it whether good or bad.
The democracy we're practicing today in Iraq is the exact opposite of what we had for decades and until three years ago. This democracy carries the essence of life, the differences, the dynamics and yes, the failures but also the seed of a better future.

Before the liberation we were suffering and we had no hope, now we are also suffering but we have hope and I see this hope even in the words of those that are cynical about the outcome of the political process; who say they hope things will be better in four years or eight years…
When Saddam was here we didn't have any hope and we could expect nothing good from a dead regime that cared only about its absolute existence.

Yes. We are facing enormous and dangerous challenges and this is not unexpected because the old will not easily step down and accept the loss; the old will fight back fiercely and the old here is not only Saddam and the Ba'ath, the old can be found among many of our current leaders and the mentality they carry that belong to the same generation that bred Saddam but I believe they will melt away as well because no one can go against the direction of time and the clock cannot be forced backwards.

The green bud looks weak and is buried in the dirt and surrounded by a tough shell but it will break through this covering, pierce the dirt and stand on its feet to announce a new era.
We will not be defeated and orphans of the dark past will get what they deserve and our sacrifices and the sacrifices of those who stand with us shall not go in vain, our sacrifices will pave an easier road for those want to follow us when they decide it's time for them to change.

And yes…Iraq will be the model.


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