Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gulf News reviews devastation inflicted on Iraq

Patrick Seale, Special Correspondent to the Gulf News, recounts in an August 12, 2011 article the destruction inflicted upon Iraq in the last 30 years:
Iraq was once a proud and powerful Arab country. With its vast oil resources, its great rivers, and its educated middle class, it was in many ways an Arab success story — before things started to go wrong. The last 30 years have been terrible.

Among the gruesome landmarks were first, the eight-year-long life-and-death struggle with the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1980-88, which Iraq managed to survive, but only with great loss of life and material destruction; second, the Gulf War of 1991, when it was forcibly expelled from Kuwait by America and its allies after Saddam Hussain was rash enough to invade his neighbour; third, the 13 years of punitive international sanctions which followed the Kuwait war and which are said to have cost the lives of half a million Iraqi children; and fourth, America’s devastating invasion of 2003 and its long occupation of the country, which is due, at least in principle, to end on December 31 this year.

Jeremiah the Hebrew prophet of 2,600 years ago predicted an invasion and occupation of the land of the Chaldeans by "a great nation and many kings... aroused from the remote parts of the earth... (who are) cruel and have no mercy" (Jer 50:41-42) who then "cry out with shouts of victory over (it)" (51:14), foreigners who "winnow (Babylon) and... devastate her land" (51:2).
Seale continues:
Iraq’s dilemma today is that it may still need help from the United States, the power which, more than any other, has destroyed it.
Jeremiah describes this destruction: "How (you have) been cut off and broken! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations!...The LORD has opened his armory and has brought forth the weapons of his indignation... Come to her from the farthest border; open up her barns, pile her up like heaps and utterly destroy her" (50:23-27).
Despite an agreement of withdrawal, a possible extension of U.S. troops may be in the works:

This is the background to the current discussions between Baghdad and Washington about a possible extension of America’s military presence in Iraq beyond 2011 — the date set by the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) for a final US evacuation.

There are still some 46,000 American soldiers in Iraq,

While the respective political leaders of today hold "divided" opinions on the extension, Jeremiah describes the scenario that will precipitate a rapid abandonment of Iraq by its occupying reconstructionists -- "I shall set fire to his cities, and it will devour all his environs... The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed, and her high gates will be set on fire; so the (foreigners) will toil for nothing, and the nations become exhausted (because of the) fire" (50:32; 51:58). Then they will say, "We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven and towers up to the very skies" (51:8).
Writes Seale:
The Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared last month that ‘now is the time for our military mission to come to a close.’ Republicans, in contrast, want America to remain in Iraq — to defend its interests and confront Iran. Senator John McCain, for example, has argued that there is a ‘compelling case’ for the US to keep at least 13,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely. Opinion is divided in Iraq also. The Kurds desperately want the Americans to stay as guarantors of their fragile semi-independence from Baghdad, while hardline Shiite factions, notably the Sadrists, who are close to Iran, want to get rid of the Americans altogether, and the sooner the better. In between these two poles are a number of more moderate parties, both Shiite and Sunni, who have no great love for the Americans, and would rather be free of them, but recognise that they may still be needed to stabilise a highly volatile situation — both inside the country and in the surrounding neighbourhood.
But when the fires break out and consume the cities, the occupiers will "forsake" the land, and the rest of the judgments will then play out, leading to a final and complete "desolation" (51:62), "and it will never again be inhabited or dwelt in from generation to generation" (50:39).
Seale declares the present state of Iraq:
There is a vast amount of rebuilding to be done in Iraq. The 2003 war overthrew Saddam Hussain’s brutal regime, but the horrors which followed have been at least as bad as — and probably a good deal worse than — anything he was guilty of.
Just as Jeremiah quoted the occupying reconstructionists lamenting in his vision: "'Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; Wail over her! Bring balm for her pain; Perhaps she may be healed...'" (51:8). But of course she will not be healed, but abandoned.
Seale then counts off the "horrors" -- just as Jeremiah called them -- inflicted upon the land:
The US invasion triggered a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites which killed tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions inside the country and sent millions more fleeing as refugees abroad (including much of the Christian community).
And so Jeremiah recites the same: "There is a sound of fugitives and refugees from the land of Babylon... Flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment... Come forth from her midst, my people, and each of you save yourselves..." (50:28; 51:6, 45).
It destroyed Iraq as a unitary state by encouraging the emergence of a Kurdish statelet, now linked awkwardly to the rest of the country in a loose federation.
The prophecy envisions the rising again of this nation to the north, which shall itself be "aroused" against Babylon, the kingdoms of "Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz... the kings of the Medes" (51:11,27-28), who are in fact none other than the Kurds [Who are the Kurds?; Are Kurds descended from the Medes?].
It smashed Iraq’s infrastructure to the extent that, in this summer’s heat, with temperatures climbing to over 50 degrees Celsius, the country suffers from crippling power cuts. On average in the south, electricity is on for one hour and off for four. The population is clamouring for better services.
As Jeremiah recounts: "She will be the least of the nations, a wilderness, a parched land, and a desert... Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified and will hiss because of all her wounds" (50:12-13).
And so Seale concludes:
Al things considered, it does not look as if America’s involvement with Iraq — which has proved catastrophic for both countries – will be ended soon.
Until the fires begin. Then we shall "forsake her", and each return to his own country.

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