Iraq Four Years Later Shows a Mixed Picture

The question of whether life in Iraq is better today compared to before the war is only peripherally relevant to the ultimate question of whether the United States should have invaded, or even as to whether the war has harmed or improved our national security. Still, this seems to be a major topic of discussion on the fourth anniversary. It looks like this is a question similar to the question of having blind men feel part of an elephant and providing a totally different description of their findings as different sources provide different answers.

The Times of London quotes poll findings to argue that many Iraqis find little sign of civil war and find life to be better. The actual poll results finds considerable variation between different groups and regions. NewsHog takes a further look at the findings.

Others looking at Iraq find different results. IPS found that women were better off under Saddam:

”Under the previous dictator regime, the basic rights for women were enshrined in the constitution,” Houzan Mahmoud from the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq told IPS in an interview. The group is a sister organization of MADRE, an international women’s rights group.

Under Saddam, she said, ”women could go out to work, university and get married or divorced in civil courts. But at the moment women have lost almost all their rights and are being pushed back into the corner of their house.”

The recent constitution which was written under the U.S. government’s supervision is ”very backward and anti-women,” Mahmoud said. ”They make Islam the source for law making, and the main official religion of the country. This in itself means Islamic Sharia law and according to this women will be considered second-class citizens and will have no power in deciding over their lives.”

If life is worse for women under Islamic Sharia law, it comes as no surprise that it is even worse for gays. Iraqi LGBT reported last year:

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. But discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. Since Saddam’s overthrow, however, Islamist fundamentalists are growing in strength and influence. They want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. Three leading ayatollahs – Sistani, Baghdadi and Khoei – have recently issued fatwas ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. Their followers in the Badr Islamist militia are now targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for execution.

The father of 23 year old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr fanatics have murdered of his two family members in retribution.

Earlier this year, AlterNet argued that health care was better under Saddam arguing, “Almost four years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s healthcare system is still a shambles. Dozens of incomplete clinics and warehoused equipment are a testament to the failed U.S. experiment to reconstruct Iraq.”

For still another viewpoint, the Project for the New Anarchist Century looks at statistics on the number of people killed to find that conditions are worse now than under Saddam. Things really must be bad for an anarchist organization to find life under a government such as Saddam’s to be preferable.

Update: New polling shows far worse situation in Iraq

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