The Guardian reports: Across the Iraqi capital, there is little sense that the long-delayed Chilcot report into Britain’s decision to go to war will change anything. Thirteen years after the invasion, the country is still reeling from the upheaval unleashed by the war. What was envisaged by planners in London and Washington to be a seamless transition from dictatorship to democracy has proved to be anything but.
A tussle for control of post-Saddam Iraq has barely relented, and continues to ravage the country’s finances, communities and social fabric. Citizens say the relentless grind has become a “forever war” that could rumble on over decades, ensuring that communities torn apart by sectarianism remain at odds for generations.
“Nothing Britain could say or do can address this, or make up for it,” said Safa Gilbert, a Christian who returned to her home city on Monday from exile in Lebanon. “Even if they wanted to help, they did not. And all they needed to do is understand the society first.”
Up the road from the cemetery, Saleh Mehdi Saleh was engraving tombstones for Sunni Muslims. He plied his trade throughout the invasion, then the eight-year occupation and the five years of chaos that followed. In that time he lost three brothers, four nephews and a sister to violence. He also carved the epitaphs for thousands more and seemed numbed by his unique perspective on Iraq’s suffering.
“This was a deliberate mistake,” he said of the decision to invade.
Like many in Iraq, Saleh would not accept Tony Blair’s claim that the war was planned in order to liberate Iraq from the tyranny of despotism. “They intended this,” he countered. “Bush and Blair conspired to destroy the most ancient civilisation in the world. They targeted us because we are rich in prophets and holy men. The beginning of creation was in Iraq and the end of creation will be here as well.
“They did not take away Saddam Hussein for the benefit of Iraqis. Britain was seeking revenge because it was driven out in 1921. There is now absolute authority for Shias to kill Sunnis in the name of the state.” [Continue reading…]