Friday, July 15, 2005

This is what empty slogans led us to...

Yesterday was the 14th of July; on the same day back in 1958 the nation that was moving towards becoming a modern and civilized nation was crushed under the tracks of a tank lead by a young officer.

Sadly, the Iraqi political spectrum is still divided over whether what happened in 1958 should be considered a good revolution or a bad coup.
One of my friends told me yesterday that he was invited for two ceremonies arranged for by two different parties; one is a sad memorial event mourning the monarchy and the other one is a festival celebrating the anniversary of the revolution!
I asked him "which one are you going attend?".
"Is that a question! Of course not the celebration. Weren't 47 years enough for us to realize the misery that coup brought upon Iraq!?" was my friend's response.

However, the reality is that for 47 years, Iraq is still suffering from the aftermath of that day when the British decided to stand by and watch allowing the military coup to take over and bring death and blood to Iraq, handing the country from tyrant to another.
With the presence of "patriotic governments" we descended from an upper developing country with considerable potentials to wreckage resting at the bottom of a deep valley that needs extraordinarily big efforts and resources to fix what had been destroyed by the outlaw tyrants.

My father tells me about the slogans of the communists and pan-nationalists at that time calling for the withdrawal of British troops and accusing the government of collaborating with the colonial west.
Unity, freedom, socialism, liberating Palestine and a dream of unifying the Arabs and bringing back the control over the oil to the people; these were the slogans of that time.

Noori Al-Sa'eed (Iraq's PM at that time) used to call those nationalists the "za'ateet" (an Iraqi term which means the ignorant children) who are good at doing nothing but to chant big empty slogans and dream of seizing power… and so it was and Noori couldn't protect himself from the "za'ateet" when they dragged his body in the streets of Baghdad in a bloody barbaric scene that marked the appearance of the concept of "revolutionary violence" in Iraq.

Now let's take a look at some material and economic factss; the construction council was dismissed after the 1958 coup; that council was comprised of the best planners of their time and the oil revenues ended up in the in the hands of dictators.
A quick look at the facts now tells us how big the catastrophe was and here I'm directing my words to the slogan holders of today whether west or east.
Iraq was an exporter of wheat and other grains but after the officers took over, the country had to import wheat from outside.
The countryside was deserted and the fields were abandoned and Baghdad became surrounded by a poverty belt formed by the immigrants from the rural areas.
Baghdad became the one and only center in Iraq with the rest of the country devastated and greatly underdeveloped.

The value of the Dinar decreased from 4 US dollars to 1/4000 US dollars in that era.
From 30 million cattle heads to only 3 million heads and from 30 million date palms to less than half of that number and one can easily notice that most of the infrastructure in Iraq was built or planned by the construction council before 1958; 90% of the railways, bridges, dams, oil producing facilities…etc.
And Iraq turned from a constitutional state with free press, a parliament and elections to a state of repression, secret police and public executions and laws that change overnight.
We lived in a state of confusion; between what the governments telling us that everything before the "revolution" was bad and after it our lives began to improve and between what the people themselves remember of those times.

The military regimes tried to forge history and used the meanest ways to do that and eliminated anyone who refused to have his memory manipulated.

An Iraqi historian who witnessed the time of the monarchy told me once that the only Olympic stadium in Iraq was gifted to Iraqis by a foreign oil investor after his contract ended and he put a sign in front of the stadium that said "this stadium is a gift from Mr. Kolbinkiyan (not sure of the spelling) to the people of Iraq".

The old man said "I told him that the sign isn't a good idea; someone will come and remove it and no one will remember your gift after a few years. And I advised him to write what's in the sign on the stones of the stadium. He answered my saying that didn't care if people remembered him or not, it's a gift and it's a symbol of my appreciation for this country".

And it happened, after one of the coups, the new authorities removed the sign and changed the name of the stadium; the "revolutionists" didn't think about building a new stadium, the only cared about changing the name of the existing one and hijacking what others had achieved.
In the same manner, they would not pave a new street; instead they would only rename it.

Today, the same scene is being replayed and the "revolutionists" are chanting the same old slogans of ridding the country of the colonial occupiers and protecting the culture and religion of the community from the evil west.

I remembered all this while I was watching TV and there were 83 assembly members announcing that they signed a document that demands the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops and there's another guy who's trying to collect a million signatures for the same reason and there are people out there in the west who share the same ideas.
At the same time, those people are preparing themselves to topple the existing administration and they claim that they're capable of securing the streets while the commanders of the organized police and army say they need a long time before they can secure the country!
But gladly we have more reasonable people than crazy opportunists in the assembly and that's why 70% of the MP's rejected that document.

Another interesting and logical voice appeared a few days ago, one of the assembly members spoke to the assembly clarifying that the issue of the presence of the multinational forces is actually a technical case rather than a political one; he emphasized that replacing one force with another and preparing qualified troops is a highly specialized process and only experts can talk about it.

In the present just like in the past we find ourselves standing between slogans and facts, between reason and ridicule and between the rational understanding of history and the chaotic ignorance that ignores history and reality.
How much time and effort was needed to stabilize Europe and stop the neo-Nazis, communists and chaotic groups from ruining everything and how many times did evil attack a new born legitimacy that looked like an easy prey?

The new democracy in Iraq needs a power to protect it from the "revolutionists" and this is a fact that we see and live in; we're not seeking a dictatorship backed by the west, we're pursuing protection for our legitimate elections.
And we need protection for more than one election, we will need protection until we're capable (not only material wise) but also knowledge wise to fail any attempt to take us back to the dark past and we need no more empty slogans; as we've had enough of them for 50 years.

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