2007 September 17 Monday
Decline In Freedom And Rise Of Islam In Iraq

We overthrew the tyrant Saddam and as a result the women of Iraq have been covered up and kept down.

Basra, Iraq - The billboard in Umm al-Broom Square was meant to advertise a cellphone service. Instead, it has become a message to those who dare to resist the rising tide of fundamentalist Islam in Iraq's second largest city.

The female model's face is now covered with black paint. Graffiti scrawled below reads, "No! No to unveiled women."

That message joins the chorus of ultraconservative voices and radical militias that are transforming this once liberal port city that boasted some of Iraq's most lively nightclubs into a bastion for hard-line Shiite Islamists since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Now, as the British prepare to exit Basra Province altogether after pulling out from this provincial capital last week, they leave behind what has been described by many here as an emerging "Shiite Taliban state," a reference to Sunni extremists in Afghanistan.

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein did not usher in a golden era of freedom in Iraq. In fact, the opposite is the case. You might think this obvious, hardly worthy of a blog post at this point. But the happy talkers who defend the war put a positive spin on changes in Iraq and a substantial portion of the populace of the United States are deceived by the happy talkers. Hence obvious truths require boring repetition.

Iraq should be a cautionary tale. Overthrow a tyrant in an Arab country and secular society gets shrunken and forced underground.

The Muslims see a return to fundamentalism as a defense against the West.

"Ultimately, what we will see in Iraq is a conservative society, whether in the Shiite or Sunni areas. Sunnis, too, are going through a very difficult process that will result in the rise of conservatism and fundamentalism," says Ahmed Moussalli, a lecturer and expert on Islamic movements at the American University in Beirut. From the perspective of many, he says, "Iraq and other places [in the Arab world] are under attack ... by the West and there is a lot of return to religion in order to empower themselves to fight the 'infidels.' "

The invasion of Iraq was a mistake. The whole world isn't just like America in their views about freedom or about women or about the relationship between religion and state. Also, we have no vital interests to protect in Iraq. We have nothing to gain by staying there.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 September 17 09:57 PM  Mideast Iraq Freedom Rights

Wolf-Dog said at September 18, 2007 3:46 AM:

In fact, the following article says that the Iraq branch of Al-Qeada is offering two different types of bounty on the life of the Swedish cartoonist who insulted Islam. $100,000 for the standard killing, but a higher prize of $150,000 if he is slaughtered like a lamb: This is from the movie "SilencING of the Lambs".

The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, offered $100,000 over the weekend for Vilks' murder. He said the bounty would be upped to $150,000 if Vilks was "slaughtered like a lamb"

Jerry Martinson said at September 18, 2007 10:39 PM:

In some ways, the vilified Baath party was quite a progressive and western one. Women held senior positions in some cases, and one of Saddam's right hand men (Tarik Aziz) was a christian, which is now a severely threatened religious group Iraq. I remember reading about when the US soldiers raided Tarik's house and found it had pictures of the family around a christmas tree and there was a bookcase filled all sorts of guides to US colleges and "LSAT" and "GMAT" cramming books - presumably for his kids during a less contentious time. When you read this, the conflict seems so silly and petty. Too bad Saddam took the country's best and brightest who had much faith in the ideals of the party and corrupted it into a horrific monster - mostly for his own personal gain and at the expense of so many lives.

It is very curious that two of the most advanced nations over there, Iraq and Iran, were part of the "axis of evil" (sorry for not counting Dubai, etc... but compared to some other "US-friendly" countries over there, Iran and Iraq were quite advanced). I think the neo-cons were really hoping that Iraq, since it is fairly advanced, wouldn't have these problems once we got rid of the crooked turd at the top. Unfortunately, the de-bathification turned the titular class out and we've been paying for it ever since. In retrospect, the whole thing seems like the dumbest thing the US has done in a century.

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