So much we hear that today’s Iraq is a terrible unstable place and that under Saddam there was not freedom but there was stability. Now, some people say, you never know if you will live or die any given day. Under Saddam, the same people say, if you did not go against the government you could be fine and live your life.
This is not exactly true. Many Iraqis were killed arbitrarily. Plenty of Iraqis lost multiple members of their families for real or imagined opposition to the government. Suspicion was enough for a death sentence, and even having a meeting with friends was enough to be suspicious. One friend of mine was arrested and beaten and, by the way, still doesn’t know why he was spared death, because he got drunk with friends and was suspected of making anti-government statements during the Iran/Iraq war. And he is a Sunni Arab who was from an area in Baghdad with Sunni majority, so do not think that even Sunni Arabs were free of arbitrary arrest and torture and murder. Meanwhile, of course, any attempt to have an identity that was considered opposed to Saddam was reason enough for murder. Any Shi’ite could be executed after being accused of membership in the Islamic Da’wa Party. Plenty of Kurds were executed just because of their ethnicity during Anfal, no other reason.
It is true right now that Baghdad is a hell on earth and if you only know Baghdad from reading news reports then unfortunately you probably don’t know how bad it is. However there are plenty of areas outside of Baghdad which are better than they have ever been, with more prosperity and freedom than they could have under Saddam. So whether you long for the stability under Saddam I guess it depends where you are (and were) living in Iraq or how much you or your family did demand freedom under Saddam.