Iraq: Changes during Pre and Post War
Changes have always been an occurrence inside the borders of Iraq. Many rulers and followers have come and gone, leaving everlasting imprints on the land. The history of Iraq and its people dates back to before 3500 BC, the world’s first civilization. Numerous battles were fought over this prime and fertile land, also known as Mesopotamia. War and conflict have continued on to current times. Several conflicts occurred with the Kurds during the 1960’s and 70’s, as the Kurdish people wanted complete autonomy in Iraq. The Republic of Iraq refused their request and the battles began, until a cease-fire was declared with the Kurds in 1964, and later in March of 1975. The Baathe party was reestablished under the ruling of Al-Bakr. After massacring the Kurds one last time, Saddam Hussein declared himself as ruler when Al-Bakr resigned. Less than a year later on September of 1980, he proclaimed war on numerous neighboring nations. He began with invading Iran; during this eight-year war it has been estimated that over 150,000 Iraqi soldiers died. The war also severely damaged the Iraqi economy. In August of 1990, Hussein lashed out on the Kurds again for their support of Iran during the war. Saddam sent Iraqi forces to Kuwait, killing hundreds until the United Nations called for Iraq to withdraw. Iraq did not leave Kuwait. Thirty-nine countries formed a coalition to remove the Iraqi troops from the foreign lands. On January 17, 1991, the coalition began bombing Iraq starting the Persian Gulf War. After Iraq was defeated, and less than a decade later, a similar scenario began with “Operation: Iraqi Freedom”. Saddam was later accused of holding illegal bio-terrorist weapons, and the UN urged for the permission to inspect various sights scattered throughout Iraq. The United States gave Saddam and his sons a deadline on March 17,2003 to leave their country within 48 hours, or he would launch a military attack on Iraq. The Iraqis in questioning missed their deadline to leave their opposing country; the United States launched several air raids based upon no compliance. In May of 2003, President George W. Bush announced the conflict with Iraq was over. The search for Hussein continued until he was later found hiding out in a hole in the ground, and then the occupying forces captured him. After taking the appalling leader into custody, many changes began for the people of Iraq as a new governmental structure was forming. Concerns and basic needs of life have changed for the better in many areas, and have worsened in other aspects since the previous war in Iraq has ended.
As a result of the previous war, the citizens of Iraq’s quality of life has altered, for both the negative and better yet the positive. Before the war broke out there were only 16 violent deaths, and just a month later in August of 2003, the number rose to 872 violent deaths, 498 of which involved gunfire (Baghdad Morgue). Security and safety are the citizen’s main concerns. Everybody has a different sense of security, and how they, themselves define feeling secure. For some people to feel protected it may take them a scenario of complete absence of crime, and for others it could be as simple as removing a horrific leader from power to feel secure. Rates of rape, robbery, murder, and kidnapping have increased to outrageous figures. Who is holding the citizens of Iraq accountable right now? Iraq, once the leader for the highest Arab female literacy rates; now the women are afraid to attend class. Violence and harassment has amplified towards women, making traveling to and from their domiciles a living nightmare both in day and night. Many business need to be rebuilt, owners are waiting to see what happens. The number of combat deaths of American and Coalition forces during occupation exceeds the number of deaths during the war. Concrete barriers have been built to protect the soldiers. Daily and today casualties occur on both sides.
Heath Care in Iraq has not exceeded since the war, but many believe the ingredients are there to fix the problem. The main problem is lack of medical supplies, especially antibiotics. The UNICEF agrees the levels are the same as before for severe malnutrition, as after the war. The residents no longer need to bribe a doctor or a hospital official just to be seen. Only seven percent of hospitals were damaged or destroyed and twelve percent were looted. Two hundred and forty hospitals have reopened, as well as 1200 clinics since the war seized. Doctor’s salaries have increased significantly. Prewar doctors were making around $20 a month, now they are making about $200 a month.
In October of 2003, the children of Iraq began a new semester in school. Most pictures of Saddam were removed from the walls and books. Surprisingly, few schools were damaged during combat. The pay for teachers has risen from $56 per month to $150 per month. Statistics show that there are 5.5 million primary and secondary students, with only 22,000 teachers to help them learn.
Basic needs such as electricity and water supply have changed for the worse since the war. Electricity problems have worsened in larger cities, including the capital Baghdad. Before the conflict people had 18-24 hours of power, now most people receive less than 12 hours of electricity. With over forty-year old machines, it is hard to keep up on maintenance. Before the foreign troops came to their country, poor water quality was the leading cause of death among children, and remains so today. Sixty percent of people receive necessary amounts of water, due to forty percent of water and sewage lines destroyed during the fighting. About 75-85% of Iraqis received sewage treatment from the same three plants. The treatment plants were considered to be useless during the war and remain to be unused.
Over two hundred neighborhood and local councils have been set up post war, representing 85% of Iraq population. At the national level a constitution and national elections are underway. The citizens possess new feelings towards the new government, many traits and feelings from ambivalence to hatred. It could be many more years before this country is somewhat “democratic”. The citizens are afraid and concerned with what will happen in their future. There are many able politicians in Iraq, but they are not yet experienced or trusted yet among the people. In the city of Nahawan, there are over a hundred brick factories within city limits, but there are not any hospitals or schools in the vicinity. Newly appointed officials are to survey the land to decide what the cities really need.
Months other the collapse of the regimes, many Iraqis protested about unemployment. With the disbanding to army and Baathe parties forces but thousand out of work. Security employed over a million men, now only 85,00 are allowed to serve. The unemployment rate was sixty percent before the war and now has risen another ten percent after. Many types of employees” wages have risen, especially those in professional job levels, who have not seen change in pay for decades. People are now more motivated to work, and can support their families much better.
The once banned consumer goods are now floating throughout the streets. Satellite television and cellular phones which where illegal to use with out permission now are seen daily throughout a crowd of people. Many cars are for sale, and many are coming from other countries. Prices of goods have risen dramatically. The stores are stocked and full again, selling out of their goods daily. Malnutrition and poverty are becoming just a bad memory of the past. Even rent prices have soared. A family that was originally paying fifteen dollars in rent is now paying close to sixty; they could barely come up with the fifteen. How can they survive now?
With all of the changes both good and bad, this county is really coming together. If you try not to include the set backs, this county could be free with many more ideas and of course with time. It is important that awful leaders like Hussein are not completely forgotten or history could repeat itself. The people have to be reminded of what it was like before and remember that the United States and our allies are trying to help them, and give their country a chance.