Apr 10, 2007

Iraq: four years on

Though I follow Iraq closely, I try not to write about it because there are great Iraqi bloggers out there like Healing Iraq and Baghdad burning who have been doing an amazing job reporting and analyzing what's happening in Iraq for the benefit of all those interested. But four years on; hundreds of thousand of Iraqi lives lost and millions fled the country. Two links from BBC might shed some light on the current situation in Iraq and how are the Iraqis feeling about it.

Middle East fears broken Iraq: neighboring governments are terrified of the mayhem in Iraq.
More than a million refugees from Iraq are in Syria, around a million more in Jordan and almost two million have been displaced inside Iraq.

The war between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq terrifies people.

In Saudi Arabia last month a Shia engineer told me how worried his community had been during Ashura, the annual commemoration of the death of their martyr Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

"It's simple," he said. "Some of the Sunnis, the extremists, regard us as infidels. We're terribly worried that what's happening in Iraq could happen here."

When you travel around the Middle East and ask people about how the war in Iraq has affected them you get a combination of regret, anger and trepidation.

Last week I visited a senior Saudi security official, a general. I asked him whether the invasion by America, Britain and their friends four years ago had made Iraq into a recruiting sergeant for Islamist extremists.

He said it had, and explained.

"It inspires these people," he said. "Some of them think it is their duty to go and perform jihad in Iraq. They think they are supporting the Muslims in Iraq and actually protecting the Islamic civilisation and culture in Iraq."
Iraq Poll 2007 - with graphics: the poll reflects how much has the situation deteriorated since 2003.

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