I'm provoked once again to think of this by a report in Reuters by Samia Nakhoul returning to Baghdad ten years after the American/British invasion of Iraq. He starts "The last time I left Baghdad was on a stretcher." He had been covering the "liberation" for Reuters from the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel when it was hit by a shell of an advancing American tank. He gives an extensive personal account of what he found on his return. The survey does not make a comforting read. He concludes:
"I cannot make up my mind which is worse: Damascus at war or Baghdad under democracy. As a friend once told me: In the Middle East wars don't bring peace, they bring bigger wars."
Nakhoul particularly highlights the Shia-Sunni division that is such a cause of tension. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni; the current Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is a Shi'ite as are 60% of the population. As far as I know the only man working with leaders of the two religious sects is Andrew White, vicar of Baghdad, that tireless worker for peace, who regularly sits down with both together. From his accounts, the leaders share a desire for an end to the violence and for reconciliation. One wonders where the fuel for conflict comes from and who stokes it.
|Traffic lights in Baghdad, supplied by the British Army, but not|
up to the heat (60ºC) of Iraq [Photo: Andrew White]