Author: Aimen Taki
I have now spent a week in my homeland. A week in the cradle of civilisation. A week in Mesopotamia. A week in the land of the Tigris and Euphrates. A week in the land of the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. A week in the land of the Muslims, the Christians and the Jews. And I have fallen in love. With Baghdad. With its people. With it’s generosity. With its diversity. With its beauty. With it’s never say die attitude. With its history. With its happiness. With its love. With its icons. With its strength (I could go on for a long long time!). Never have I known a country, a people or a place with so many problems, yet so few seemingly affected.
There is no sustainable source of employment. The infrastructure is 50 years out of date. Safety is a mere dream. Corruption is rife. And there is no end in sight for those problems. Yet, the people are happy! They find the time to smile, to crack a joke, to talk about times gone by, to enjoy a game of dominoes over an istikan of chai (a special glass used for drinking tea). It is truly a beautiful and fulfilling sight.
No matter how bad the conditions are, Iraq, you feel, will always find a way. From countless wars to dictators to economic sanctions to poverty to genocide to a failed uprising to death to cancers to chemical weapons to civil war (and that’s only in the last 30 years!). Iraq will find a way and Iraq will emerge stronger. That is not to say Iraq haven’t paid the price, they are paying it now, and a very dear price it is too. Over 100,000 civilian casualties since 2003 and a generation of children who have seen nothing but war and destruction (again this could be a long list, but id much rather concentrate on the positives).
Yet, walking the streets of Iraq, talking to the people, experiencing Iraq as a whole, you get the feeling that Iraq isn’t broken. That there is a brighter day tomorrow, and there is a happy ending to a very dramatic, heart breaking and depressing story.
A couple of months ago I asked whether Iraq was a failed state. A couple of months ago I had lost all faith in Iraq. Yet, today I write this blog having very happily altered my view on Iraq and it’s future.
The path that lays ahead for Iraq is a long, treacherous and dangerous one. However, I have no doubt that Iraq will emerge victorious at the end of the path. I am proud to be part of this unique, unbelievable and death defying country. I am proud to be Iraqi.