How to Destroy a Country in Five Years

By Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch. Posted March 17, 2008.

This the fifth of Iraq’s blood-sodden anniversaries since Bush invaded, and the country is now utterly ruined.

It reminds me of Iraq under Saddam,” said a militant opponent of Saddam Hussein angrily to me last week as he watched red-capped Iraqi soldiers close down part of central Baghdad so the convoy of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki might briefly venture into the city.Five rears after the invasion of Iraq the US and the Iraqi government both claim that Iraq is becoming a less dangerous place, but the measures taken to protect Mr. Maliki told a different story. Gun-waving soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armored cars, each with three machine gunners on the roof, raced out of a heavily fortified exit from the Green Zone, followed by sand-colored American Humvees and more armored cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding convoy, we saw six identical bullet proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have carried Mr. Maliki.

The precautions were not excessive since Baghdad remains the most dangerous city in the world. The Iraqi prime minister was only going to the headquarters of the Dawa party to which he belongs and which are only half a mile from the Green Zone but his hundreds of security guards acted as if they were entering enemy territory.

Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls. Different districts even have different national flags. Sunni areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party and the Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The Kurds have their own flag.

Continued . . .

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