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    Posted February 17, 2013 by
    hotdotdd
    Location
    Slemani, Iraq
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on

    More from hotdotdd

    Protests and Peace

     
    This story is my husband’s, who is an Iraqi Kurd, and has lived in northern Iraq his entire life. I’m writing it in English, because I’m an American and a native English speaker, but have only lived in Iraq for 5 years. He’s a journalist here and went into the bazaar interviewing men in the “chai xanas” (teahouses) about the last 10 years living in Iraq and how things have changed.
    His side of the story is this: Since 2003, things here are VERY different. In 2003, the regime here was the regime of Saddam. Since the Americans came here the system has changed. People have love and hope and he is very happy because the time of dictatorship is gone. However, the people here in northern Iraq are still very afraid of another dictator coming in to take his place because the Americans are gone. They are afraid of things going back to the way that they were because of the sectarian violence that is ever-present in our country. They’re afraid that our country will be finished because of a great war.

    Here starts his interview with 7 different men. Jalal Osman, a member within the PUK, said, “I’m sure that the time between 2003 and now is different. There are 2 situations in Iraq concerning freedom; where the people have the choice to choose freedom. The Kurdish people have salvation from the Baath regime. They have a different opinion from the Arab people, who don’t feel free after the Americans left. Before, during the Baath regime the people had a lot of pressure, and had a lot of problems. Now, the problems are still going on around us, as in Iran and Syria. I think that the biggest problem will be between the 2 factions of Islam, Shiia and Sunna and that could result in a war. Between Arabs and Kurds, Sunna and Shiia, and Christians and Muslims, there could be problems. It could become explosive. The leaders of the countries sometimes have it for themselves. For example, with Turkey and an Iraqi leader, they can make deals that will benefit the leader but not necessarily Iraq. Many political parties are inside Iraq and most of them are driven by religion. Sometimes inside Iraq, the leaders don’t know about the problems and the people outside do. Talking about Malaki (Prime Minister), he could turn into a dictator. There are many inside Malaki’s government who come from the outside of Iraq and they are causing problems. There is pressure from the people to change the government. Iraq now has become better, but for some it is still very, very bad. It’s not easy or simple to become the president. The people are afraid now, that the president will never leave his post and that a civil war in Iraq will happen because of the 2 religious factions, or because of the Arabs and the Kurds.”
    When asked, “Why,” this was his reply. “There is a problem inside Iraq because the leaders don’t know about the problem. There is pressure from the people for him to change his government. People think that democracy is a type of dictatorship; that once he is in office that he will never leave power. This is really the opposite of democracy. Some people from the village are taught to not say anything about this. During the time of the Baath regime people were always afraid that you would be put in jail or killed. During the regime they would always win by 99%. No one else could have anything to say. Now there is democracy, but there are still lots of problems inside the political groups. Many political parties are coming to Iraq and bringing happiness to the people because they have a “say.” They’re supposed to think about coming out from the fight and the civil war and make everything nice and good inside the country. We don’t need a dictator in the chair again, one who has all the power and authority.”
    He says we need to forget about the dictator party, as well as the Shiia party, who wants Maliki to be a dictator.
    “Since 2003, the economy in the Kurdistan region has changed and the economy is much higher. I hope that the economy continues to grow within the Kurdistan region. The political parties have the pressure of the economy and are helping the people to live better.”

    Mohammed Noori, a journalist, gave his opinion. He said that step-by-step, life is changing here. A couple of years ago the system of the regime changed. Before 10 years ago, the Baath party had many, many statues of the government. Now some new things are coming to the area and it is becoming better and better for the people. Someone says life is becoming simple and it’s easier to live a good life. Before 10 years ago in the Kurdistan region of Iraq there were many problems here. It was very dangerous. Now it is better and good, and we can choose by ourselves. Saddam Hussein was a dictator and was always on the chair and always showed himself to be everything. Before 10 years ago, Iraqi people didn’t think for themselves. Now things are completely different. 10 years ago Saddam Hussein was in power and destroyed everything in Iraq. If you tell Iraqi’s, they know who was Saddam Hussein. Now freedom in Kurdistan has changed many things for the people. Now some people are angry with the people in power in the Kurdistan region. There is opposition inside of Kurdistan and we are opposite to the government. In front of big situations and problems. They problem is from the Syrian and Turkish governments for all Kurds. The Turkish government wants to control everything, including the Iraqi Kurds. From the Iraq side, it’s not a nice place to be right now. There are challenges and problems inside and the Arab countries are thinking they are different. Other countries try to dictate and it’s a big problem for the Iraq people. If you look at the Saudi people, they don’t have any freedom at all. Women can’t even drive. The situation in Iraq is very bad. We’re waiting for things to get good and free inside of Iraq. The Iraqi government is causing bad situations inside of Iraq – like a machine. Iraq is becoming like a dirty worn-out machine. Going back to 300 years ago, the leaders said that they were bringing freedom, but it never came. This is the time we need to fix the problem. The Kurdish people are a different nation than the Arab people. There are many people together, but they are always thinking about being separate.

    Adl Aziz, the manager of Goran Radio Company, said, “We’re sure that civil war is coming again to our country and will destroy our country. The war brought many big problems inside the Kurdistan region. The people here paid the penalty for civil war. The time of civil war inside Iraq made everything in the bazaar expensive. After 2003 the region got good money from Baghdad and a lot of many came into the region and nobody knows where it went. Salaries for the police, teachers, and government workers are better than before. Day by day Iraq is becoming very bad. The Kurdish example is always to hope for next year. The parties and people came back after the war and were very happy, but now it’s not so. The government is stealing a lot of money and there is a lot of corruption. From the border they get a lot of money and also from the oil money, but no one knows where it goes. From the 25 July, the opposition built itself (Goran Party) and the people little by little are standing on their feet.”
    Salaam Salah, a 56-year-old man from Slemani said, “10 years ago, I was driving a car.” (Not a taxi driver, but a private driver.) Life was a problem, and everyone was unhappy. Life wasn’t good and many people were hungry. It wasn’t really a life. It was full of problems and many people were being killed. Then, everyone that I drove was talking about the problems. Now life is different than in the past. There is freedom and happiness. The Kurds feel a sense of peace. We are free to have a democracy. We need to remember that there could still be another war, though. There is still fear that a dictator will take over, but we’re free, have money, have a democracy. Still, what is my life now?“ If there is another war, we don’t want to think of it, because we are happy now. We NEVER, NEVER want another war to happen, though.

    Alan Salah Qadr, retired, age 64, and brother of Salaam said, “10 years ago was the worst time in Iraq! I was a Peshmerga (Iraqi freedom fighter) and Saddam put me in prison for many years. There were many bombs. My brother died during the war. Many people were sad. Our hearts were broken. Maybe now, though, security in all of Iraq will be gone again. Really, Iraq is still afraid. The government and the people aren’t helping those who lost family in the war. Many people are still sad and afraid that those things will be like 1991 again (Iraq/Iran war). Maybe there will be another war coming and all of Iraq will be finished. They’ll die. Maybe their houses will be gone again and their lives will become bad again. In the past we Kurds just stayed in our homes, but the military came to our houses, broke in, and arrested and killed us. We didn’t go out after them, I agree with my brother that people are happier and freer, and that we have democracy. People are different now than 10 years ago. I’m happy because once I turned 60 years old, the government started to pay me what Americans would call ‘retirement’ every month, so I don’t have to work now.“ Now Kurds understand many things because there is no war going on in our country. We have cities, but they are different. We have 2 different parties in our country, run by 2 different cities, Hewler and Slemani.”

    Arshad Tahseen Osman is a 21 year old Kurdish man from Kirkuk, one of the cities where Saddam Hussein mixed the Arabs, Kurds, and Turkman people. He said that, “Now many people are more like the middle class – not rich or poor. This is better than before. Now schools and universities have many good teachers and good students. We have membership in the government of Iraq. There are many projects in our country. We have more freedom. We have TV, magazines, newspapers, Internet, where 10 years ago there were none. But, we’re still different. For me, there are many things different. Before I had nothing and now I have everything. 10 years ago I was a child, but now I have graduated from the university.”

    Another man named Aram Hussein Osman, a 32-year-old Mathematics teacher from Qaladze said, “10 years ago there were many problems for me because of the war; we had to go to live in the mountains, there were many bombs, etc. Now life is much better for me because I’m a teacher and I have a wife (who is also a teacher), a car, and we have no money problems. I would have liked to have gotten my Master’s degree in the past, but couldn’t because of the war. I had no money and no work.

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