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Iraq's Lost Generation

by the stormy present Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 10:28:35 AM EST

It's just so depressing that I don't really know what to say about it.

A new report (.pdf) by the National Association of British Arabs (a group I know absolutely nothing about) titled Iraq's Lost Generation: Impact and Implications has quantified the systematic targeting of Iraqi intellectuals, academics and professionals.

(All emphasis is mine.)

Problems facing the intelligentsia of Iraq have been neglected in the scale of that country's ongoing tragedy. Since 2003, the new phenomenon of targeted and systematic assassinations, kidnappings and threats to professionals and academics has surfaced. These are escalating.

Over 830 assassinations have been documented, victims killed along with their families. Numbers includes: 380 university academics and doctors, 210 lawyers and judges, and 243 journalists/media workers but not other experts, school teachers or students; neither professionals displaced internally and externally. All
aspects of life are affected.

The victims are often highly qualified, PhD or equivalent. Assassinations are not specific to sect or gender but victims are predominantly Arab.

Hundreds of legal workers have left Iraq in addition to those already killed and injured, thereby denying thousands of Iraqis their legal rights. Working lawyers numbers have decreased by at least 40% in the past year alone and hundreds of cases shelved.

The reported incidents are only the tip of an iceberg; many cases go unreported.

This is in addition to the huge exodus to neighbouring countries and, for the lucky few, to Europe.

Unless urgent action is taken to redress this situation, it will be too late to save Iraq's intelligentsia for the immediate and foreseeable future; a disastrous situation for Iraq.

We knew this was happening.  Now we know more about how fast and how thoroughly.

Elsewhere on the NABA website is a long list of names.  These are the names of the dead.

Here are just a few:

  • Dr. Aalim Abdul-Hamid, Dean of the department of Preventative Medicine at Mustansiryia University in Baghdad.

  • Abdel-Aziz al-Atrachi, PhD, professor of agriculture at Mosul University.

  • Ahmed Saadi Zaidan, PhD, professor of education, Anbar University.

  • Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher, PhD, professor of physics, Diyala University.

  • Salah Abdelaziz Hashem, PhD, professor of literature, Basra University.

The list is very long.

We like graphs here at ET.  Here are a few graphs from the report:

There are many more.

I'm trying to imagine how one might go about building a New Iraq, even if the violence were to stop tomorrow, if all of the people with any expertise in anything are dead.

A conclusion from the report:

Targeted assassination of professionals in Iraq is a new phenomenon in Iraq's history. Academia, doctors, indeed knowledge itself, have always been accorded the highest respect. The current problem commenced with the 2003 invasion and continues to escalate.

The pattern of atrocities which followed the invasion, and targeting of Iraq's intelligentsia followed a methodical period of looting and destruction of Iraq's
heritage, infrastructure, universities and libraries. Many Iraqis, together with sections of international academia, believe this to be highly indicative of a plan to drain Iraq of its intellectuals and experts and dismantle its infrastructure along a pattern known as `El-Salvador Option' used in that country by the Pentagon.

The exodus from Iraq is grave and is already having dire consequences for the people of Iraq that can only worsen if the situation is not reversed.

Pay attention to that link I've inserted regarding the so-called Salvador Option.  This is important.

There are recommendations, both for Iraq and for Britain.  Here's what they say regarding the UK:

Short-term requirements are:-

  1. Urgent action to persuade the Home Office to stop refusing applications by Iraq academics, doctors and scientists on the erroneous basis that Iraqi is now a democratic, safe haven.

  2. Facilities for those wishing to come to the UK to allow them to use that time updating their knowledge and expertise. This could be achieved through attachments to local universities and hospitals. Postgraduate training for many was suspended with sanctions in 1990 and severely disrupted since 2003.

The majority of Iraqis have an inherent desire to help in the restructuring of their country and would return back when the opportunity arose. For professional and
middle class Iraqis, life outside will be infinitely worse both financially and professionally. Outside of their own country and milieu they suffer both psychologically and financially and, even more importantly, they are needed desperately to put a stable Iraq back on the map academically and professionally as well as raising the social and intellectual conscious of any new Iraqi state.

The rest, I'll let you read for yourself.

Here's another quote from the report, for all you recent-comments junkies:

The solution to this tragedy can only be achieved by restoring peace and security to Iraq but this is beyond the scope of this report.

However, many of the professionals and academics under threat were trained in the UK, Europe and the USA. Urgent assistance is required from the UK government to alleviate their plight and ensure that this valuable stratum of society is not lost completely for the future of Iraq and humankind.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 10:33:52 AM EST
What I can't understand is how an Iraqi middle class doctor could possibly be angry enough to get involved in some idiotic terror plot. How could that be? But they hate us for our freedoms.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 11:13:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraqi professionals aren't getting a great Press in the UK post Glasgow.

But doesn't it remind you of Year Zero? Just a different religion.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 11:11:27 AM EST

For progressive Iraqis, June 14 recalls their anti-colonial history. 1958 was the year nationalists and radicals threw out the monarchy imposed by the British after World War One. Over the next five years of relative freedom and democracy, Iraq began building a nationalized, planned economy, based on its oil wealth. Hundreds of factories were eventually built, making it the most industrialized country in the Middle East. The Iraqi government organized a national healthcare system, and treated education as a right. Women were represented in professions in percentages larger than any other Middle Eastern country. Even after that government was overthrown in 1963 (a coup in which the Central Intelligence Agency played an important role), those reforms were so popular that they were continued under the Baathist regime that took over.


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 11:48:47 AM EST

Severed...Wait, maybe I should write about forced circumcision in Basrah. A public castration. Another bloody scene.

Mahdi Militiamen (remember Mahdi, your darling drill boy?)rounded up a group of Sabaeans. Sabaeans are one of the oldest "ethnic" groups in Iraq, converting them by force. At gun and drill point, they agreed to embrace the Mahdi creed.
An old Sabaean of 70 years, with a beard reaching his belly, was circumcised.
Bloody severed foreskin.

Did I say blood? Which reminds me of Othman's blood clot, stuck in his leg...

"Layla I need some blood thinner, I need aspirin - Help me for God's sake".
Othman cannot leave the house, cannot get to a pharmacy, cannot see a doctor. Snipers, checkpoints, fear..."They are burying me alive at home"...he says.

Buried alive at home...Yes this is what I will be writing about.

Alia was driving her car with Auntie Sameera to get some gasoline.
Suddenly, her car was riddled with bullets. They were lucky.
A man in black walks up to her.

  • What have you done? You nearly killed all of us.
  • Why did you not stop?
  • I did not see you. There is no uniform, no checkpoint, no nothing.
  • I waved.
  • I did not see you. I am sorry.
  • I do not want your apology. I want you to go home and stay there. I never want to see your face in this neighborhood again. You are to stay at home where you belong.

Home, a home...any home...I think I will write about that instead.

Marwan is a Palestinian Iraqi. This is how he defines himself.

"I do not know where my family is. They are stranded somewhere in the desert, between Syria and Iraq. Layla, I already lost 4 of them in Baladiyat. I regret Saddam so much..."

Ah regrets and nostalgia...Maybe I need to write about this instead.

Salman, an Iraqi shia. An staunch anti-Saddam says to me.

"There is no end to this dark tunnel, Layla. Give us back a strong government, with an iron fist. I would pay anything to have that back..."


Read the whole appalling, moving piece.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 12:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 This is the final episode of the  Hometown Baghdad video blog(June 19th 2007) :
They called it: "Jimi Hendrix"

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 02:52:28 PM EST
I really like that show.  I'm glad they made it.

Of all the people I've known in Iraq over the last four years, most of them are now either dead or have left the country.  Every single one of them has a relative (or a dozen relatives) who's been killed.  A very few have stayed, and they go to great lengths to not attract attention to themselves, driving old cars, dressing as plainly as possible, pretending they don't have jobs (if they do actually have them)....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 at 03:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
stunning numbers...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jul 4th, 2007 at 08:01:48 AM EST
The loss of learning and experience is unfathomable, tragic, yet the loss of the Whole People seems much worse and unsolvable to me.  There are at least three Iraqi generations today that may never get over the PTSD of their reality:  Fear and Hatred of the "Other", which is their own + the west.

I´d bet that pills and alcohol become a huge market in Iraq, if it´s ever over.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 11:59:06 AM EST
Alcohol, maybe not so much, unless things suddenly lurch in a more secular direction than they are now.

Pills... yes, my understanding is that practically everyone who can afford them is on antidepressants already.

Also, my friends there say everyone they know has gained weight, lots and lots of weight.  They can't move around or exercise easily, and they tend to sit around comfort-eating all day, partly to stave off boredom and partly to stave off depression.

It's really hard to imagine what "recovery" from all of this might look like, let alone how long it might take.  The physical rebuilding will be the easy part; repairing the psyche of a nation will take a generation, at least.  

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 02:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<sadness + anger + helplessness>
All I can do is talk and write...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 05:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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