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Thursday, November 15, 2007
The tragedy of Iraq, pt. 172
For several years, there have been dribbles of evidence from Basra that suggest all is not well. One has always hoped that this Shia area, formerly under 'softer' and more careful British control, might be an exception to the general disaster area that is post-war Iraq. This report chops the legs off this hope that has first run, then staggered, and finally crawled: it can be advanced no longer.
The chief of police in the southern Iraqi city of Basra has warned of a campaign of violence against women carried out by religious extremists. It has, Maj-Gen Abdul Jalil Khalaf said, included threats, intimidation and even murderThis is not simply a matter of incompetence in the management of the occupation; it is an indictment of the whole bloody enterprise.
Women interviewed by the BBC said they no longer dared venture on to Basra's streets without strict Islamic attire…This is truly horrific. One of the things that define civilisation is the way that women are treated. I do not mean that they should be cosseted or otherwise regarded as delicate inferiors. I mean that they should have the freedom to do as they wish, without prescription from men - in particular those citing scripture – without fear.
The number of refugees in Iraq, the number of deaths, and the appalling sexism of post-war Iraq, can leave no doubt that Iraq is now far worse off with 'democracy' than it was under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein only turned to religion when he was under severe political and military pressure. If one looks back to before the war, Iraq was basically secular and it may well have been stumbling towards democracy. The war has unleashed and empowered the religiosi. It has to qualify as the greatest misjudgement of the last hundred years. Blair and Bush are responsible. No argument.
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