Nostalgia for the Saddam era is thwarting a truly united Iraq

Rasha Al Aqeedi writes: Yearning for Saddam’s Iraq, in many cases, has little to do with Saddam or his style of ruling.

As Nada, a Twitter personality with a significant following among frustrated Sunnis, put it: “Many love Iraq and are heart-broken to witness its deterioration, which they feel happened after the invasion and the emergence of failing leaders.”

Dina Al Azawi, a writer now living in the United States but who has a large Facebook following in Iraq, lost her brother and cousin in the violence that engulfed the country in 2004.

“Under Saddam, our foreign policy was balanced, and the world respected us,” she wrote. “Iraq was not a proxy for a foreign agenda. Yes, we were independent and sovereign. It was a tyranny, but it was a state. Iraq does not even resemble a state today. It is not about who rules, it is about how we were ruled.”

She is one of many Iraqi Sunnis who compare life before and after the 2003 fall of Saddam, often concluding that tyrannical rule is better than the chaos of today’s Iraq.

More than two million Sunnis in Iraq are displaced. The government has accomplished little in the way of reconciliation and thousands of Sunnis remain in prisons without trial. Meanwhile, no charges have been laid over the horrific massacre of Hawija in 2013 when government security forces fired at peaceful unarmed protesters, killing 54 and injuring hundreds. More recently, news of Shia militias’ continuing torture of Sunnis has been confirmed. Nostalgia for better days is predictable.

Ihsan Nouri, a political writer, said he understood what was driving this: “They had the best posts in the governments and military. They lived in the posh areas of Baghdad and they were respected wherever they went; just their last name is enough to get them out of any fix. Most of those people were Sunnis.” [Continue reading…]

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