“Saddam built is city, what is being done by Governments since 2003? Not even have asphalt on a street”, it hurts Ibrahim to the lamentable state of Baghdad. This is a complaint widespread among iraqis protesting since the beginning of the month in Tahrir square. This university professor is not a sunni nor a baazista nostalgic of the old regime, but a shi’a moderately religious, whose family has suffered, like most, the consequences of the delusions of war of the dictator. Ibrahim had 23 years ago when the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, and recalls with clarity their mandate, but two-thirds of the 39 million iraqis had not been born or were very children.
“It’s true, we didn’t know Saddam,” admits Hayder, a bachelor’s degree in law from 23 years ago, “but we have heard of how life was then.” Fares M. Ali, a lieutenant retired 49-year-old, is offered to explain the difference. “There was law, now we live without the law”, summarized with the consent of the rest.
The political leaders of Iraq are looking for a replacement of the prime minister after protests by The iraqi Army declared a curfew in Baghdad by the anti-government protests
“The reference to Saddam is the result of the anger and despair of the moment. The time of Saddam was not best. There was genocide, mass murder… If these protests had taken place then, there would be many more dead,” explains political analyst Hiwa Osman, reminiscent of the tens of thousands of deaths that occurred during the uprisings of kurdish and shi’a in 1991. In his opinion, “when you mention Saddam, you are comparing the ability to be manager of the new equipment with the dictator, who is seen as a statesman, brutal and unforgiving, but a statesman”.
The cataclysmic social and political which led to the downing of Saddam, the errors of the united STATES, the sectarian war that it unleashed the occupation, and the shameful performance of the majority of the leaders have had a high human cost to the iraqis. Despite the oil, even in Baghdad —who in the eighties of the last century was measured with the cities of the Gulf and today is the second capital most populous in the arab world—, to drink water from the tap is dangerous, the electric service is spotty, there is no public transport and waste collection leaves much to be desired. In the provinces, with the exception of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan, the situation is worse.
At the intersection with the avenue Saadun, Zuhair Ghasim, laborer, unemployed of 40 years, gives his opinion: “under Saddam we had security, work and primer of rationing”. Now, writes Salwa Abdelsattar, a housewife, 58-year-old, “just give us sugar and rice subsidized”. Others claim that during the dictatorship “while you do not metieras in politics, you were safe.” It was a time in which the red lines were clear.
In fact, and despite the violence inexcusable that the Government has responded to the demonstrations, their mere celebration is the best proof of the progress of democracy that Iraq has made since 2003. From 1958 until that date, any popular protest was forbidden. And in organizing the regime, they chanted “we will sacrifice our blood and our soul for Saddam” versus “we will sacrifice our blood and our soul for Iraq” that we hear these days on the streets. In a word, is the difference.