For the last six months I have watched, with great fascination and growing horror, the emergence of Iraq from chaos to forming a government. This once prosperous nation, 55% female, once had women politicians, chemists, computer programmers and university students. With the damage inflicted by war came a world that offered these women only a veil and a life lived largely indoors. I've read of a woman who heard her company was reopening. She reports that women many no longer safely go to the market alone, let alone to work. So her brother and father accompanied her to her former place of employment where she found herself no longer welcome and unemployed. They could not assure her safety so longer employed women. Nor would they allow this computer programmer to work from home. Her story seems fairly characteristic of what I've been reading. But these are not the stories of the headlines.
As the new government of Iraq has formed, I've read headlines and articles with great interest. One of my most frequented sources may be found here: http://translate.google.com/translate?client=tmpg&hl=ar&u=http://www.al-iraqnews.net/new/&langpair=ar|en. Very few women are a part of their newly formed parliament. And headlines regarding the Women's Ministry being headed by a man were quickly shoved aside for other headlines.
Interestingly, they published an average of about five articles a day about bombings, like the police officer who survived five attacks before three suicide bombers finally got to him. His story has been buried, like his broken body beneath the rubble of the soccer stadium that was converted to a police bunker, and I cannot find anything else about the incident. I grieve for the widow and four children whose stories have been silenced. Or other acts of terrorism throughout the country. Now the headlines, only three days later, have changed. Yesterday the ambassador of the Czech suggested, in the articles I read on multiple sites, that the Iraqi needed to take action to protect their image as acts of terrorism had greatly decreased. WTF???? So today a new article appears in the Iraqi news, entitled "The Low Number of Deaths in Iraq Prove that the Security Forces are Best Place to Fight Terrorism." Hmmmm... Don't think I'm buying this oasis in the desert. Today's headlines boast of captures of a weapons cache south of Baquba and the failure of two members of the Dawa Party, Diwaniya for a failed assassination. Or this just posted:
quoted as saying [sic]: The Shuba that embassy “organizes from time to time, art exhibitions and cultural activities in the garden of the embassy called by the diplomats, foreigners and members of the diplomatic staff in Baghdad,” she that “this may impose some constraints and limits the presence of a wider audience for such cultural activities, which requires at its discretion extend farther by expanding the exchange of visits by cultural delegations between both countries, friendly countries." How is it that she cannot see that restricting the arts to an elitist few who are in positions of power and have lots of guns for protection, actually means that there is a serious problem?! I predict that future headlines will be similar as Iraq revamps its image (it is rumored that the news sites are owned by members of the government).
Very few Americans seem to be noticing this country's emergence beyond noting our soldiers returning home. Yet now seems a vital time to be mindful of change as it will affect every trip to the gas station and possibly more in the years to come. Iraq promises to be the leading producer of oil, outrunning Saudi Arabia if they can manage to keep the Kurds and the Shiites on board. Internal bickering and civil war has always kept that region turned inward. Unity may at last be coming, however, against their Western neighbors, as promised by their acceptance in the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce. Americans will eventually notice, however, at the gas pumps. As Iraq nears reevaluating their currency, possibly as high or higher than prewar rates, the price of oil rises. Their budget written last summer was written with the expectation of $72 a barrel. Current prices are around $91; sufficient to meet the shortfall in the budget to be approved in January for 2011. It's predicted the $150 a gallon of the seventies will be commonplace within five years.
I'll leave you with the quote from the Iraqi news website: