Quotes from Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran


- ‘U.S. government regulations dictated that everything, even the water in which hot dogs were boiled, to be shipped in from approved suppliers in other nations.’ (9)
- ‘A mural of the World Trade Center adorned one of the entrances [to the cafeteria].’ (10)
-  ‘Whatever could be outsourced was. The job of setting up town and city councils was performed by a North Carolina firm for $236 million. The job of guarding the viceroy was assigned to private guards, each of whom made more than $1,000 a day. For running the palace – cooking the food, changing the lightbulbs, doing the laundry, watering the plants – Halliburton had been handed hundreds of millions of dollars.’ (13)
- ‘Americans droves around in new GMC Suburbans, dutifully obeying the thirty-five-mile-an-hour speed limit signs posted by the CPA on the flat, wide streets. There were no many identical Suburbans parked in front of the palace that drivers had to use their electronic door openers as homing devices.’ (15)
- ‘Shuttle buses looped around the Green Zone at twenty-minute intervals, stopping at wooden shelters to transport those who didn’t have cars and didn’t want to walk. There was daily mail delivery. Generators ensured that the lights were always on. If you didn’t like what was being served in the cafeteria – or you were feeling peckish between meals – you could get takeout from one of the Green Zon’e Chinese restaurants. Halliburton’s dry-cleaning service would get the dust and sweat stains out of your khakis in three days.’ (15)
- ‘Veteran diplomats who had lived in the Arab world or worked in post-conflict situations wanted local cuisine in the dining room, a respect for local traditions, and a local workforce. But they were in the minority. Most of the CPA’s staff had never worked outside the 
United States. More than half, according to one estimate, had gotten their first passport in order to travel to Iraq. If they were going to survive in Baghdad, they needed the same sort of bubble that American oil companies had built for their workers in Saudi ArabiaNigeria, and Indonesia.’ (16)
- ‘The sub-Saharan privation and Wild West lawlessness that gripped one of the world’s most ancient cities swirled around the walls, but on the inside, the calm sterility of an American subdivision prevailed.’ (19)
- ‘Garbage had been picked up with Swiss efficiency before the war, but collections had become sporadic after liberation, like every other municipal service.’ (20)
- ‘As he entered the Caprice, he noticed that it was almost out of gas. He drove to the nearest service station, where the line of cars waiting for fuel stretched for more than a mile. This never happened under Saddam, Ahmed muttered to himself…Across from the gas station, greasy kids standing next to jerry cans waved siphon hoses. They charged four dollars a gallon. A gallon of regular was less than a dime at the pump.’ (22)
- ‘Schroeder and his fellow CPA staffers kept abreast of developments in Iraq by watching Fox News and reading Stars and Stripes.’ (25)
- ‘There were no apologies from the military. Rumsfeld’s war plan did not include enough troops to guard government installations in Baghdad and other major cities. Asked about the looting, he brushed it off with the now-famous phrase “Freedom’s untidy.” ’ (41)
- ‘In those chaotic weeks after the war, most phones in 
Baghdad didn’t have a dial tone. The Americans had bombed the major telephone exchanges and hit the phone company’s headquarters with so many precision-guided bombs that it resembled a giant block of Swiss cheese.’ (46)
- ‘While the part did have plenty of thugs, many of Iraq’s most capable scientists, engineers, and other professionals also belonged. To gain admission to the best colleges and graduate schools, to get a coveted government job, to get a promotion, you had to be a member. If you excelled at your job, you might be promoted into the party’s upper ranks, even if that was not something you sought. Turning down a promotion could get you fired or sent to jail.’ (48)
- ‘Six months earlier, Saddam’s deputy had announced that the Iraqi leader had been reelected with 100 percent of the vote and 100 percent turnout.’ (53)
- ‘Saddam’s government owned hundreds of factories. It subsidized the cost of gasoline, electricity, and fertilizer. Every family received monthly food rations. Bremer regarded all of this as unsustainable, as too socialist. ‘It’s going to be a very wrenching, painful process, as it was in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,’ he said.’ (61-62)
- ‘ ‘Jerry, this [de-Baathification] is too harsh,’ Garner said. ‘Let’s get Rumsfeld on the phone and see if we can’t soften it.’ ‘Absolutely not,’ Bremer said. ‘I’m going to issue this today.’ Garner asked the [CIA] station chief what would happen if the order were issued. ‘You’re going to drive fifty thousand Baathists underground before nightfall,’ he said.’ (71)
- ‘Around the time Carney submitted his petition, the CPA began to receive reports that ten thousand to fifteen thousand teachers had been fired. They were firkas who had joined the party because they were told to do so by the Ministry of Education. The CPA’s education advisers were worried. As a result of de-Baathification, entire schools were left with just one or two teachers in some Sunni-dominated areas.’ (73)
- ‘Eleven days after he arrived in Iraq, Bremer issued CPA Order Number 2, which dissolved not just the army but the air force, the navy, the Ministry of Defense, and the Iraqi Intelligence Service.’ (76)
- ‘Within a week, thousands of angry soldiers converged on the Assassin’s Gate to protest Bremer’s decision. ‘We want our jobs back,’ many of them shouted. Some of the demonstrators carried signs that read WHERE ARE YOUR PROMISES, COALITION FORCES? or RESTUDY THE DECISION OF THE IRAQI ARMY. American troops pushed the crowd back.’ (76)
- ‘In a land of honor and tradition, the viceroy had disrespected the old soldiers. I never ran into Omri again, but months later, I did see another former soldier who had been at the protest. ‘What happened to everyone there?’ I asked. ‘Did they join the new army?’ He laughed. ‘They’re all insurgents now,’ he said. ‘Bremer lost his chance.’ ’ (77)
- ‘Bremer’s plan, which he outlined to the exiles, was to form a council of twenty-five Iraqis strictly to advise him on policy matters. The members would be a combination of exiles and internals, Arabs and Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, men and women, and they would be handpicked by the viceroy. He’d have the final say on all matters.’ (78)
- ‘Before the war, shops in Baghdad didn’t close for the night until ten o’clock. The city’s finest restaurants stayed open past midnight. Dinner parties carried on even later. Nobody worried about driving home in the wee hours. If you weren’t a dissident, Iraq’s capital was one of the world’s safest cities. Few police officers patrolled the streets. Everyone knew that unless you were one of Saddam’s relatives or cronies, you could be locked up in Abu Ghraib for even the smallest offense – if you were lucky. Others had their hands chopped off or were sent straight to the gallows.’ (83)
- ‘One former CPA employee who had an office near the White House liaison staff wrote an email to a friend describing the recruitment process: ‘I watched resumes of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to ‘the President’s vision for Iraq’ (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was ‘uncertain.’ I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy,…and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC contributors.’ (91-92)
- ‘Because of the personnel shortage in Baghdad, six of the gofers were assigned to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget, even though they had no previous financial-management experience.’ (94)
- ‘The books looked good only because the company had received its raw materials for next to nothing: due to a government edict valuing the Iraqi currency for official imports at the rate before the 1991 Gulf War – when one dinar was worth more than $3, instead of the prevailing rate of 2,000 dinars to the dollar – the vegetable oil company had to pay just $1 for each $6,000 worth of imported products. The Finance Ministry made up the difference. Electricity was free. The company didn’t have to pay pensions either; the government took care of that as well.’ (103)
- ‘Under Saddam’s Baathist government, state-owned factories produced a plethora of goods including school notebooks (which were so substandard that the pages fell out), car batteries (which weren’t much better), and leather coats (which were favored by members of the secret police). Government jobs, either in a factory or a ministry or in the security services, were plentiful and guaranteed you a salary for the rest of your life. Paychecks were low, but the cost of most goods and services was subsidized by the government. Gasoline was sold for less than a nickel a gallon. Nobody paid for electricity, not even the state-owned factories that guzzled hundreds of megawatts. Every family received monthly food rations from the state. Education, even college, was free. So was health care. The price of fertilizer was so heavily subsidized that Iraqi farmers would often sell their annual allotment in Jordan and Syria instead of using it to grow crops; doing so took a truck and a few days, and it netted more money than spending months toiling in the fields. Iraqis experienced an unparalleled degree of affluence because of the country’s plentiful oil revenue. Before the 1991 Gulf War bankrupted and isolated the country, government-run department stores managed by the Ministry of Trade sold Italian loafers, Pierre Cardin ties, and Breitling watches at a fraction of their retail price anywhere else in the world. International tickets on Iraqi Airways were subsidized, as were imported Volkswagens, Volvos, Mercedes-Benzes, and Chevrolets. In the 1970s and even into the early 1980s, before the apex of Iraq’s eight-year war with neighboring Iraq, Iraq’s healthcare and university systems were regarded as the best in the Arab world.’ (110-111)
- ‘Iraqis blamed their financial meltdown on Saddam and the West. Their leader drained the national coffers – and put the country tens of billions of dollars into debt – by waging war with Iran. Then he had the lunacy to invade Kuwait, which resulted in debilitating United Nations sanctions that cut off Iraq from the world. In the eyes of the Iraqis, America was also at fault because it refused to support lifting the sanctions, despite widespread reports that the sanctions were strengthening Saddam while impoverishing his people. But all along, there was little, if any, recognition among ordinary Iraqis that their economic system was rotten to the core. After all, it was the same system that had given them a good life a generation earlier. The thinking among those Iraqis was that if Saddam and the sanctions were gone, they’d be wealthy again.’ (111)
- ‘The tap water in Baghdad had once been safe enough to drink, but years of sanctions had restricted Iraq’s ability to import chlorine for treatment plants, which eventually shut down. The municipal water was now pumped directly from the foul Tigris. New purification systems would be a hot item. But nothing was rolling off the al-Faris assembly line. Most of the 1,200 workers were at home, save for a few guards and factory managers. The problem was electricity and raw materials. There were none.’ (113-114)
- ‘The plan was detailed in a confidential, 101-page document titled ‘Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth,’ which specified the work that USAID wanted a private contractor to perform. The goal, according to the document, was to lay ‘the groundwork for a market-oriented private sector economic recovery.’ The plan envisioned the sale of state-owned enterprises through a ‘broad-based mass privatization program,’ the establishment of a ‘world-class exchange’ for trading stocks, and ‘a comprehensive income tax system consistent with current international practice.’ ’ (115)
- ‘There was also a legal roadblock. Article 43 of the second section of the Hague Convention of 1899 – the first set of international treaties that attempted to create laws of warfare – requires an occupying power to respect all the laws of the occupied country except when it is necessary to promote public order and safety. Although the United States had the blessing of the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1483, to promote ‘economic reconstruction and the conditions for sustainable development’ in Iraq, CPA lawyers were generally opposed to the sale of Iraq’s industries, on the grounds that such sales violated the Hague Convention.’ (117-118)
- ‘Intragovernment debts, those among ministries and state companies, would be forgiven…’The very companies that matter most to us got hurt the most,’ Corliss said. ‘The very companies that were, in McPherson’s terminology and mine, the dogs that you got to take out back and shoot benefited the most….Who owes a bunch of money? Weak companies. Who had a bunch of money? Strong companies. So we just reversed that….It was exactly the opposite of what we were trying to achieve.’ (122)
- ‘Emboldened, McPherson became even more ambitious. He seized upon the tax code – without waiting for the BearingPoint consultants – and took an ax to it. He slashed Iraq’s top tax rate for individuals and businesses from 45 percent to a flat 15 percent. It was the sort of tax overhaul that fiscal conservatives long dreamed of implementing in the United States. No matter that most Iraqis never bothered to pay taxes. The details would be worked out later by BearingPoint, whose contract required them to develop a program to assign Iraqis taxpayer identification numbers.’ (124)
- ‘After the occupation ended, [CPA press officer] Senor joined Fox as a paid on-air commentator about Iraq.’ (130)
- ‘To North and his Iraqi colleagues, IMN was supposed to be like the BBC, a government-funded television-and-radio network that retained editorial independence. Iraqi journalists, with initial assistance from American advisers, would decide how to cover the news.’ (134)
- ‘Fifty yards away, inside the Green Zone, air-conditioners chilled buildings to a crisp sixty-eight degrees. The Emerald City wasn’t connected to Iraq’s electrical transmission grid. A diesel power station the size of a small house kept the appliances running in the Republican Palace. Others inside the walls – the private contractors, the CIA station, the military – had generators that were almost as big. The CPA deemed power to be ‘mission critical.’ Fuel tankers arrived from Kuwait every day, and a team of electrical engineers was always on call. ‘We’ve got twenty-four/seven reliability,’ one of the engineers boasted.’ (148-149)
- ‘United Nations economic sanctions prevented Iraq from importing new equipment for five years. Even after the sanctions were revised to allow Iraq to sell its oil for humanitarian goods, including parts for power plants, bureaucratic hurdles still restricted the flow of needed supplies. As equipment broke, it either was not fixed or was replaced with jury-rigged gear. With power in ever-shorter supply, government officials didn’t permit the plant to shut down for annual maintenance. The once-modern facility gradually became a collection of deteriorated pipes, broken gauges, and ramshackle devices. Leaks in the steam pipes transformed the generating complex into a giant sauna. The plant was one of the few places in Iraq where you couldn’t smoke; there was too much leaked fuel. Before the 2003 war, Baghdad South was barely able to produce 185 megawatts. ‘We were like an old man losing his energy,’ Khallaf said. Baghdad’s residents didn’t notice. Saddam didn’t want to deprive his two most important constituencies, his cronies and the generals who could launch a coup, all of whom lived in the capital, so he orderedBaghdad to receive as much power as it needed from the national grid. To meet the demand, other parts of Iraq, particularly, the Shiite-dominated south, were starved of power.’ (150)
- ‘[UN officer Marcel Alberts] estimated that Iraq’s national electricity demand was 6,200 megawatts during peak periods, but its maximum generating capacity was only 4,400 megawatts – less than half of what the country was able to produce in 1990. (One megawatt was enough to meet the needs of about 1,500 homes.) ‘When I see some of the power plants here, I’m surprised they’re still running,’ Alberts told me. ‘The conditions are terrible.’ Every three months, Alberts summarized his findings in reports that were sent to UN headquarters in New York and made available to every member nation. One such document, issued in 2002, noted that Iraq’s generating units were ‘technically and economically obsolete,’ resulting in a 2,500 megawatt nationwide power shortage and lengthy blackouts.’ (150-151)
- ‘Some CPA staffers thought that instead of diverting the lion’s share of power to Baghdad, Iraqis should share it equally. It made perfect sense to the Americans: in a democracy, the government doesn’t pick favorites. The CPA’s electricity team consulted Iraq’s Electricity Commission. ‘They thought we were nuts,’ said Robyn McGuckin, who worked on the electricity team. ‘They warned us that it would cause all sorts of problems.’ But nobody listened. Bremer signed an edict mandating that power be allocated equally across Iraq. Residents of Basra and Najaf and the rest of the south got a few more hours of electricity a day. People were pleased, but it didn’t win the CPA any admirers. Baghdad, however, was short-circuited. The capital, which was accustomed to receiving uninterrupted power, found itself without it for at least twelve hours a day. The blackouts began to foster almost overnight nostalgia for Saddam among people who had cheered his fall.’ (152-153)
- ‘ ‘It’s a full-scale economic overhaul,’ Bremer said. ‘We’re going to create the first real free-market economy in the Arab world.’ ’ (163)
- ‘[The CPA] tried to right Saddam’s wrong by engaging in social engineering, favoring the once-expressed Shiites and Kurds at the expense of the once-ruling Sunnis. It was the easy and obvious strategy, but it was fraught with danger. The Shiites and Kurds had political leaders who were known to the Bush administration; the Sunnis did not. The Shiites and the Kurds had been the victims of the Sunnis, who were willing accessories to Saddam’s despotism. The result was a Governing Council that had strict quotas: thirteen Shiite Arabs, five Sunni Arabs, five Sunni Kurds, one Christian, and one Turkmen. To some Iraqis, who placed national identity over religious or ethnic affiliation, it looked like the Americans were adopting a version of the troubled political system in Lebanon that divided government posts among several religious groups. ‘We never saw each other as Sunnis or Shiites first. We were Iraqis first,’ said Saad Jawad, a professor of political science at Baghdad University. ‘But the Americans changed all that. They made a point of categorizing people as Sunni or Shiite or Kurd.’ ’ (196)
- ‘Yarmouk Hospital, a campus of two-story concrete buildings erected from a concrete courtyard, was a five-minute drive from the Green Zone, just a few blocks off the road to the airport. It was one of the Baghdad’s largest and busiest medical centers, but after visits to more than a dozen other hospitals across Iraq, I regarded Yarmouk as a fair representation of the country’s healthcare system. It was, quite simply, a disaster. Nothing was clean. The bedsheets were soiled, the floors were streaked with blood, the toilets overflowed. The rooms lacked the most basic equipment to monitor a patient’s blood pressure or heart rate. Operating theaters were without modern surgical tools or sterile implements. The pharmacy’s shelves were bare. In the emergency room, a few bloodstained gurneys cast dim shadows on the floor. There was no defibrillator, no respirator, no blood transfusion equipment, and no syringes of epinephrine.’ (210)
- ‘The story of Yarmouk Hospital was the same as that of nearly every other public institution in Iraq. In the 1970s, it had been one of the best medical centers in the Arab world. Jordanians, Syrians, and Sudanese traveled to Baghdad for operations. That changed, of course, after the invasion of Kuwait and the imposition of sanctions. Although Saddam eventually won the right to sell his oil in exchange for food and humanitarian supplies, the hospital never had enough medicine. The government blamed the United Nations for screwing up the purchase orders. The United Nations blamed the government for ordering the wrong items and for steering contracts to cronies instead of to reputable suppliers. The Bush administration believed that Saddam’s government, which was trying to generate international support to overturn the sanctions, was deliberately depriving Yarmouk and other hospitals of needed supplies. However bad the place was before the Americans arrived, it got much, much worse when the U.S. Army rolled into the city. A tank shell struck the hospital the day Saddam’s government fell, knocking out the generator and sending doctors fleeing home. With nobody to watch over the building, looters carted away not just all the beds, medicines, and operating room equipment, but also the CT and ultrasound scanners.’ (211)
- ‘The neoconservatives who succeeded economics czar Peter McPherson weren’t willing to give up on everything. If they couldn’t sell off state-run firms, they figured they could at least try to eliminate the pervasive subsidies across the economy. Why sell gasoline for five cents a gallon? Why distribute electricity for free? Why offer fertilizer so cheaply that farmers would smuggle it into Syria and Jordan to resell it instead of using it on their fields? Why give everyone monthly food rations, regardless of need? Subsidies accounted for more than half of Iraq’s annual budget – the food rations alone cost $5 billion a year – and resulted in a grossly inefficient, Soviet-style system of economic allocation. The CPA’s economists realized that reducing subsidies, which would result in higher prices, would be unpopular and would likely trigger unrest, but they also were convinced that it was the CPA’s responsibility to wean Iraqis from government handouts. They figured that the Iraqi government that would take over from the CPA wouldn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take such steps. Instead of doubling the price of fuel or fertilizer, the economists came up with what they thought would be a far less risky strategy to start cutting back on subsidies. Every month, Iraqis received government food rations: sacks of rice, beans, flour, sugar, tea, and other staples. Under the CPA plan, the government would get out of the business of ordering and distributing food and instead offer people cash payments equivalent to the cost of the food. The private sector, they believed, would distribute food far more efficiently, saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars a year. A sovereign Iraqi government could decide to go even further and cut back on payments to the wealthy through a means test.’ (227)
- ‘Hallen nominated nine Iraqis to serve on the exchange’s board of governors…he screened them for proficiency in English – he later said that this was for his personal benefit – and for ‘a very American style of thinking in terms of business and capitalism.’ ’ (230)
- ‘By early 2004, leaders of the CIA-led team searching for weapons of mass destruction had all but concluded that Iraq didn’t possess nuclear, biological, or chemical munitions. The laboratories that Dick Cheney and others in the Bush administration claimed were production facilities for biological and chemical agents turned out to be agricultural testing stations and decrepit medical research centers. But what Iraq did have, and there was no doubt about it, was the knowledge to manufacture anthrax, nerve gas, and, quite possibly, a crude nuclear device. Hundreds of Iraqi scientists had been involved in clandestine weapons projects during the twenty-four years Saddam was in power.’ (251)
- ‘Nowhere in Baghdad was the challenge of restoring municipal services greater than in Sadr City, a squalid warren of 2.5 million Shiites four miles east of the Green Zone. Residents of the ghetto – known as Saddam City when the dictator was in power – were regarded as a threat by Saddam’s government, which was dominated by Sunnis. His regime assiduously suppressed any acts of dissension within the slum’s labyrinthine alleys. In a notorious 1999 incident, his elite Republican Guard gunned down as many as a hundred people protesting the government’s assassination of a prominent Shiite cleric and his two sons. Precious little had been spent on constructing schools or hospitals in the area. The three-foot-wide sewage pipes that crisscrossed the neighborhood had not been cleaned since 1998. By the time U.S. troops arrived in Iraq, the underground arteries were 60 percent blocked, creating vast swamps of excrement.’ (261)
- ‘In the hierarchical Shiite establishment, al-Sadr was just a portly, low-ranking cleric with angry eyes, rotting teeth, an unkempt beard, and a ten-gallon black turban. But his father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, was a revered ayatollah who had built up a mass following through control of clerical schools, a network of social services, and a metaphorical message of resistance to Saddam’s rule. The senior al-Sadr’s assassination in 1999 had unleashed bloody unrest in the slum that would later take his name.’ (263-264)
- ‘Bremer ordered al-Sadr’s newspaper shut down. For weeks, al-Hawza has been printing inaccurate and inflammatory articles about the American military and the CPA. The clincher for Bremer was a story in February headlined “Bremer Follows in Footsteps of Saddam,” which accused him of deliberately starving the Iraqi people. On March 28, American troops ushered al-Hawza’s staff into the street and snapped a padlock on the office gate. Bremer had expected that shuttering the paper would pressure not just al-Sadr but also General John Abizaid, the overall American commander in the Middle East, and Lieutenant General Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq. Bremer and his staff assumed that al-Sadr would lash back through protests and small-scale attacks, instigating a manageable fight that would compel Abizaid and Sanchez to put the cleric out of business.’ (265)
- ‘The Mahdi Army didn’t limit its attack to American forces. They also set upon Iraqi police stations in Sadr City.’ (272)
- ‘Iraqis hadn’t flaunted their differences under Saddam’s Sunni-dominated government, Shiites and Kurds were fearful they would get classified as troublemakers and shipped off to Abu Ghraib. And Sunnis, in order to mask the fact that a minority was ruling the majority, perpetuated the myth that ‘we’re all Iraqis.’ ’ (285)
- ‘Our goal should have been to build a free, safe, and prosperous Iraq – with the emphasis on safe. Democratic institutions could be developed over time. Instead, we keep talking about democratic elections. If you asked an ordinary Iraqi what they want, the first thing they would say wouldn’t be democracy or elections, it would be safety. They want to be able to walk outside their homes at night.’ (286) John Agresto, CPA adviser on education
- ‘In his farewell meetings, [Bremer] insisted that the CPA had set Iraq on the path to a democratic government, a free-market economy, and a modern infrastructure. He ticked off the CPA’s accomplishments: nearly 2,500 schools had been repaired; 3 million children had been immunized; billions of dollars had been spent on reconstruction; 8 million new textbooks had been printed. New banknotes had replaced currency with Saddam’s visage. Local councils had been formed in every city and province. The most expansive bill of rights in the Arab world had been written into the interim constitution.’ (287-288)
- ‘Because of bureaucratic delays, only 2 percent of the $18.4 billion Supplemental had been spent. Nothing had been expended on construction, health care, sanitation, or the provision of clean water, and more money had been devoted to administration than all projects related to education, human rights, democracy, and governance combined. At the same time, the CPA had managed to dole out almost all of a $20 billion development fund fed by Iraq’s oil sales, more than $1.6 billion of which had been used to pay Halliburton, primarily for trucking fuel into Iraq.’ (288)
- ‘ ‘The task of the Coalition Provisional Authority will end on the twenty-eighth of June, and at this time, the occupation will end and the interim Iraqi government will assume complete sovereignty on behalf of the Iraqi people,’ he said. ‘We welcome the steps of Iraq toward assuming its legitimate role among all free countries of the world.’ When Bremer had finished, he turned to Allawi and al-Yawar. ‘You are ready now for sovereignty,’ he declared. He handed the portfolio to the chief justice. With that simple act, America ended the occupation. Allawi uttered a few sentences, as did al-Yawar, who called it ‘a historic, happy day, a day that all Iraqis have been looking forward to…a day we take our country back.’ ’ (291)
- ‘Millions of Iraqis had headed to the polls in January 2005 for the country’s first democratic elections in decades. In Baghdad, in the Kurdish north, and in the Shiite south, the day was a stunning triumph. Men and women waved ink-stained fingers to show that they had voted. There was far less violence than expected, largely because American and Iraqi troops put most cities under a three-day curfew, preventing vehicular traffic and searching pedestrians at random checkpoints. One Iraqi remarked to me that American soldiers should have done the same thing when they arrived in April 2003. But in the Sunni-dominated areas to the north and west of the capital, the election was a failure. Local politicians had boycotted the balloting, and insurgents warned residents to stay away from the polls. In Ramadi, only six people voted at one polling station. In Dhuluyah, a town north of Baghdad along the Tigris, the eight polling stations never opened. The results mirrored turnout. A coalition of Shiite parties endorsed by Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani won 48 percent of the vote. The two major Kurdish parties picked up a combined 26 percent, and a bloc led by interim minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, got almost 14 percent.’ (297)
- ‘All the key ministries were claimed by the Kurds and the Shiites, whose militiamen swept up legions of young Sunni men – sometimes torturing and killing them – with the acquiescence of the new government. Sunni insurgents began attacking Shiite and Kurdish civilians with the same ferocity they directed at the Americans. Shiites living in Sunni areas north of Baghdad began to flee south. Sunnis in Shiite communities to the south of the capital left their homes And moved north. A civil war had begun. The problem would become even more serious a few months later, when it was time to write a permanent constitutions. The lack of Sunni participation would result in a charter that most Sunnis opposed.’ (297)

1 comment: