Tuesday, 2 July 2013

More heat than light in Iraq

I sometimes think that our Western tendency to intervene in other nations' affairs is like children finding a big firework and lighting the blue touch paper and standing back to see what happens. We mean it for the best - but the resulting explosion, though creating extensive copy and great pictures for our media, has tragic consequences for those in the vicinity, those who can't stand well back.

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]


  1. Seeing all the sadness and violence in the world, portrayed daily in News Bulletins, makes one feel inadequate.
    How courageous and totally unselfish is Canon Andrew White.
    This morning, during my 'quiet time' I was thinking how vast, to us humans, is the task of praying for all who need our prayers, but not to Him. I found again this prayer, which I pasted into the front of my bible ( along with other 'special ones') and which I find covers so much.

    “ Hear Me Lord
    On behalf of all those who are dear to me,
    all whom I have in mind at this moment.
    Be near them in all their anxieties and worries
    . Give them the help of your saving grace.
    I commend them all with trustful confidence to your merciful love.
    Remember Lord, all who are mindful of me,
    all who have asked me to pray for them.
    All who have been kind to me,
    all who have wronged me,
    or whom I have wronged by ill-will or misunderstanding
    . Give all of us grace to bear with each other's faults
    and to share each other's burdens.
    Have mercy also on the souls of our loved ones who have gone before us.
    Grant them peace and happiness with you.Amen"

    (Prayer from the Poor Clares at Arundel)

    1. I need to have that stuck on the front of my iPad. A great prayer. Thank you :-)