"Our past is sad, our present is tragic, but luckily we have no future."
These could be words said by any Iraqi today. What better way to describe Iraq”s bloody days under Saddam Hussein”s tyranny, its bloody days since the U.S. invasion and the blood-filled days that seem to dominate its dreams of a future?
Those words are in fact the closing lines of the first Iraqi film to be shown in competition at the annual Cannes Film Festival. The film is called "Kilometer Zero" and is directed by Hiner Saleem, a Kurd, who told Reuters news agency that his grandfather is the one who said those words about Iraq.
Although the film recounts tensions between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq toward the end of the Iran-Iraq in 1988, Hiner”s film and his grandfather”s words are equally applicable to Iraq today.
What better way to ask how many Iraqis must die? Is 420 enough? That is the number of people who have been killed in the two weeks since Iraq”s government was announced. Is 76 in one day enough? That is the number of deaths reported on May 11 from five suicide bombings – three in Baghdad alone. How many suicide bombers are enough? Is 67 enough? That was the number who blew themselves up in April according to The Guardian newspaper. How many suicide bombings a day are enough? Are 12 enough? That was the number of suicide bombings on April 30, the day Iraq”s first democratic government was formed.
And for what? Who benefits from these suicide bombings and car bombs? Certainly not the Shi”a and the Kurds who have often been the main targets of these attacks. And definitely not the Sunni Iraqis. The men who blow themselves up supposedly in the name of the Sunni Iraqis die and leave this world. The Sunni Iraqis are left behind in a country overwhelmed with destruction and terror.
The inclusion of Sunnis in Iraq”s new government is important because it shows that unlike Iraq under Saddam, today”s Iraq will not marginalize anyone. It remains to be seen if including Sunnis will act as an antidote to the attackers, who are largely Sunni. Not all Iraqis believe a government should be decided along sectarian lines. For example, Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shibli turned down the post of human rights minister because he believes it was offered to him only because he is a Sunni Arab.
Unfortunately, the men who blow themselves up in Iraq see only sectarian lines. And what do their attacks hope to achieve? Do they want Saddam Hussein back? I was against this war but I certainly rejoiced at the overthrow of a bloody tyrant who ruined his country. Saddam Hussein will never rule Iraq again – thank God.
Do they want to ignite a civil war? The Shia and Kurds of Iraq, who have suffered for decades, are finally represented in their country”s government. Why should they give up their newfound power to become embroiled in a senseless civil war? They have too much to lose.
So I ask again, what do these men who blow themselves up want? Is this nihilism? Has Iraq become the burial ground for any young Muslim man who has a death wish?
I share the opposition of many Iraqis to the occupation of their country. The quickest way for Iraq to be free of occupation is for its government to provide security and stability to its people. To do that, they need a strong armed force. How will they put together such a force when almost every day new recruits are slaughtered like sitting ducks by suicide and car bombs? Those who attack Iraq”s police and armed forces cannot claim to be fighting the U.S. occupation. They are only prolonging it.
There is nothing noble in suicide bombings that are aimed at igniting a civil war or that are motivated by sheer nihilism. What good is achieved when two Iraqis are killed simply for selling bread to Iraqi soldiers as was the case in Samarra on May 12?
Terrorists were unable to derail Iraq”s elections and so they are now trying to derail Iraq”s future. The people of Iraq have suffered enough. To paraphrase the closing lines of Hiner Saleem”s film, their past has certainly been sad, their present is definitely tragic but they deserve a safe and prosperous future, free from occupation and from terrorism.