Good News From Iraq

Good News From Iraq: Amir Taheri has spent several days in Iraq and what he found largely flies in the face of the negative spin our press has put on things…

“…ONE fact is that a visitor to Iraq these days never finds anyone who wants Saddam back.

There are many complaints, mostly in Baghdad, about lack of security and power cuts. There is anxiety about the future at a time that middle-class unemployment is estimated at 40 percent. Iraqis also wonder why it is that the coalition does not communicate with them more effectively. That does not mean that there is popular support for violent action against the coalition.

Another fact is that the violence we have witnessed, especially against American troops, in the past six weeks is limited to less than 1 percent of the Iraqi territory, in the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” which includes parts of Baghdad.

Elsewhere, the coalition presence is either accepted as a fact of life or welcomed. On the 4th of July some shops and private homes in various parts of Iraq, including the Kurdish areas and cities in the Shiite heartland, put up the star-spangled flag as a show of gratitude to the United States.

“We see our liberation as the start of a friendship with the U.S. and the U.K. that should last a thousand years,” says Khalid Kishtaini, one of Iraq’s leading novelists. “The U.S. and the U.K. showed that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Nothing can change that.”

In the early days of the liberation, some mosque preachers tested the waters by speaking against “occupation.” They soon realized that their congregations had a different idea. Today, the main theme in sermons at the mosques is about a partnership between the Iraqi people and the coalition to rebuild the war-shattered country and put it on the path of democracy.

Even the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr now says that “some good” could come out of the coalition’s presence in Iraq. “The coalition must help us stabilize the situation,” he says. “The healing period that we need would not be possible if we are suddenly left alone.”

Yet another fact is that all 67 of Iraq’s cities and 85 percent of the smaller towns now have fully functioning municipalities. Several ministries, including that of health and education, have also managed to get parts of their operations going again. The petroleum industry, too, is being revived with plans to produce up to 2.8 million barrels of crude oil a day before the year is out.

To be sure, life in Iraq today is no bed of roses. But don’t forget that this is an immediate post-war situation. There is no famine – in fact, the bazaars are more replenished with food than ever since the late 1970s – while food prices, having jumped in the first weeks after liberation, are now lower than they were in the last years of Saddam’s rule.

MOST hospitals are functioning again with essential medical supplies trickling in for the first time since 1999. Also, some 85 percent of primary and secondary schools and all but two of the nation’s universities have reopened with a full turnout of pupils and teachers.

There is plenty more, go read it all. Also, take a gander at these poll numbers from Iraq. They’re certainly not all glowingly positive, but neither do they reflect the picture the media has tried to pain of what’s going on Iraq. Here are a few key numbers…

“…GIs might feel relieved to learn that only 9 per cent of Baghdadians say they are “very hostile” – but this small percentage amounts to around 250,000 adults.

…We pressed the issue a little further: “If you HAD to choose, would you rather live under Saddam or the Americans?” The good news is that very few want Saddam back – just 7 per cent

…By almost three-to-one, Baghdadians expect life in one year’s time to be better (43 per cent) rather than worse (16 per cent) in one year’s time than it was before the war. Looking five years ahead, optimists outnumber pessimists by five to one (54-11 per cent).

By then, most people hope that the occupation will be over; but, despite the criticisms, fears and acute day-to-day problems, only 13 per cent want the Americans and British troops to leave immediately.”

When you consider that the Iraqis just went through a war and that we’re struggling to maintain order & get the power and services working 24×7, these numbers don’t look too bad. As the Iraqis take a larger role in running their country and as the people’s day to day lives improve, these numbers may very well improve significantly. While Iraq is no Garden of Eden, it is also not the quagmire our media is the anti-war left is so anxious to paint it as.

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