Iraq: Remembering April 9, 2003 – When Sitting on the Fence is Difficult

While the 9th of April 2003 was a defining day in the history of modern Iraq most of us Iraqis can’t really agree on what to call it. Is it the Fall of Baghdad or the Liberation of Baghdad? Using one or the other pins you to one side or the other. Sitting on the fence is difficult.

In previous years, the Iraqi government used to mark the day with a public holiday, calling it simply ‘Baghdad Day’. That’s good fence sitting, don’t you think? This year though Baghdad Day wasn’t a public holiday. A couple of thousand people from both ends of the Shia and Sunni spectrums went out on demonstrations but millions of Iraqis just went on with their lives as if it was any other day.

The Iraqi blogosphere reflects this collective shrug. Out of more than 100 blogs listed on Iraqi Blog Count, only 11 bloggers wrote about this day and they were mostly bloggers living outside Iraq. But before I move to them I want to turn your attention to a blogger writing from within Iraq first.

Baghdad Dentist, whose last post was exactly one month ago, puts together an insightful situation report on Baghdad six years after that eventful day. If you’re going to take a look at one blog in this summary make it this one. From the security situation to fun, it’s all there and in bulletin form!

On relationships, he writes:

I've noticed the increase of divorcing couples.

On Education, he observes:

Better to be called deterioration!

And, my favourite, on the Baghdad Municipality, he says:

The municipality bought artificial palm trees. For god's sake, we have enough palm trees to fill Baghdad. [The plastic ones are] not as nice as the natural ones. Yellow made of plastic with lights during night (if the power is on)!!!

One of my pet peeves… how could a city that prides itself on its dates use yellow plastic disco lit palm trees? That is just so sad. As I said previously, if it’s just one post you’re going to read, Baghdad Dentist’s is the one.

MixMax, writing from Sweden on his blog Iraq The Lasting Love, looks back at the last six years. He talks about his joy at seeing the statue of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being toppled but notes how quickly was that joy drained away with the chaos that followed.

After 9 April 2003, Iraq became a different country from that I used to know. It became entirely different from the Iraq I was dreaming of.

It’s a long post but really worth a look. It’s in English too, so what are you waiting for? What I personally find interesting is that he shows how difficult these times were and still are for us as Iraqis – how difficult it is to be stuck in this moment of time between a regime that ruled with fear and cruelty and a war that rid us of that regime but plunged us into deeper chaos.

While MixMax’s post did not make it clear whether he is commemorating the fall or liberation of Baghdad, blogger Zahra al-Rawi has no time for fence sitters. She’s written a passionate post titled Lest we forget:

Who could have imagined that six years pass and Iraq would still be occupied? We know that America is stalling and fooling us with what it calls ‘withdrawal plan’, with no withdrawal. Six years we've been suffering from them. Sucking away our oil and the riches of our country and more importantly our blood.

There is a single comment on her post. Mahmoud al-Rawi who blogs on the Arabic blog Mahmoud: Muslim Iraqi Pharmacist writes astutely:

Dear sister, these tragedies weren’t the result of the occupation only.

His own post on the day is a transcription of a prayer for divine guidance for all Muslims.

Eye Raki, from London, also posted on the 9th of April. In 6 Years Today, he looks back at the blog post he wrote in 2003 on the same day:

At the time I was angry that people had given up on Iraq. Many journalists wanted to portray Iraq as a failed state because that type of news sells well.

But unlike Zahra, Eye Raki is much more optimistic and thinks Iraq has turned a corner under Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s leadership. The post is more ‘Liberation’ than ‘Fall’ and Hayder al-Khoei, who writes Eye Raki, says a new Iraq was born in 2003 and it is here to stay:

I don't know how Iraq managed to survive. I don't know how the Iraqi's managed to survive. But they did. Every morning bad news and then in the evening even more bad news. The instinct for survival was probably just as vital as the surge and Maliki's jihad against the terrorists.

A notable if slightly lengthy commemoration post is published by Layla Anwar on An Arab Woman Blues. It’s a two-part interview with Malcom Lagauche, author of The Mother of All Battles: The Endless US-Iraq War, who talks with her about ‘the fall of Baghdad as seen by an American’.

So there you have it. There are a couple more posts on the anniversary but as Layla notes we all have the attention span of squirrels. She split her interview into two parts in order not to scare you with a lengthy post and I shall end mine here too.


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