As the troops pull out, what kind of Iraq has America left behind?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Not long after the "liberation" of 2003, the US-led coalition was preparing the Iraqi public for their ultimate departure. A television advert showed a bunch of boys in an excited football match, while their parents looked on with fond smiles – the portrait of a happy and contented land. In a swirl of dust, came Western troops in their armoured cars; they stopped beside the young players for a brief exchange of greetings, and then the convoy disappeared into the desert.

As we all know now, the war did not end then. It took many years of violence unleashed by the invasion meant to nullify the threat of Saddam Hussein's non-existent WMD to allow for the latest departure. And there was no stopping yesterday beside smiling children. The long convoy of vehicles taking the last US forces across the border into Kuwait travelled at the dead of night to minimise opportunities for attack.

So what kind of united, stable Iraq are the Americans leaving behind? The Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is reported to be about to order the arrest of the country's Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashimi, on terrorism charges in connection with bombings of government buildings in Baghdad. Mr Maliki had already ordered mass detentions of overwhelmingly Sunni "subversives", apparently following information from the new government in Libya, where officials claimed that Muammar Gaddafi was plotting a coup in Iraq. Sunni MPs have walked out of parliament in protest at what they see as sectarian persecution.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric with close ties to Iran, has declared that the representatives the occupiers have left behind – diplomats and aid workers with ties to the US government – were legitimate targets. Both the Shia and Sunni Iraqi Arabs are, meanwhile, furious with the Kurdistan government over deals with multinationals in oil-rich territories.

But it is not all doom and gloom after almost nine years of the Iraq adventure which costs tens of thousands of lives, most of them Iraqi. The level of violence has gone down hugely from the days when we would wake up to and go to bed in Baghdad to the sound of gunfire and bombs. The economy is taking steps, albeit faltering, towards recovery. And a non-theocratic government has been voted in. This last point is of particular importance as elections bring Muslim fundamentalists, of varying hues, into power in the region following the Arab Spring.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea