I wrote before about “stability” under Saddam and how I want to write about “stability” after Saddam, which means right now. Yes, there are places where there is stability, some places in the south and some places in the north of Iraq, where there is more prosperity and more freedom than under Saddam.
Like I said before, though, Baghdad is worse than it looks. In many areas, people who can leave the city, or the country, can. Baghdad is the meeting point for all of the worst people who want to fight their battles including Iraqis and foreigners backed by every imaginable force including the wonderful neighbors of Iraq who are all looking to take something from Iraq. Shi’a are blown up for committing the crime of being Shi’ite, whether they commit this “crime” in a mosque or a market. Sunnis may be shot in the streets or kidnapped from fake checkpoints by people like Moqtada’s “Mahdi Army”. Their “crime” is being Sunni. Anyone can be caught in the cross fire between the different groups fighting each other and the US soldiers fighting any of them.
Kidnapping has been a threat to Baghdad residents since the fall of Saddam. Kidnappers are frequently just part of criminal gangs, but they may sell their person to terrorist groups if they can make enough money doing it. I know plenty of people (Iraqis) who have had their family members kidnapped. Some paid for the release of their loved ones, and others still have their family missing and have not heard from them in months. Kidnapping Iraqis makes money, but kidnapping Westerners is where they can make a lot of money. If you kidnap an American you can sell him or her to al-Qa’ida for very much money.
Can you look in the face of a widow from Karbala who lost her many of her family members in the 1991 uprising and tell her that removing Saddam was a bad thing, now that her son, for the first time ever, can publicly perform Shi’ite rituals and now does not see a future of oppression as his only option in his homeland? And what can you say opposing the removal of Saddam to a Kurdish man who still cannot locate the graves of all of his family members killed during Anfal?
On the other hand, can you look in the face of an innocent man from Baghdad, maybe he is a Sunni man with 3 children, who has lost a relative or two to Shi’ite militias for having the wrong name in a false checkpoint and maybe had another killed in crossfire between US soldiers and terrorists and tell him that he should be happy about Iraq after Saddam? Maybe this poor man just did his job and shut up during Saddam, fed his family and played no role in supporting Saddam or opposing him, and now he finds himself in the midst of hell? Or maybe he finds himself Syria or Jordan working illegally and fearing being sent back to the sectarian hell of Baghdad?
How about a young woman, maybe 18 years old? She grew up in Baghdad, survived two wars she didn’t ask for, and now finds herself threatened unless she covers her head by either Wahhabi terrorists or the Mahdi Army. What is she supposed to say as she sits at home and wonder what the future has in store for her?