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Iraq's "Mako Generation": Sadness and Despair - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Everything is “mako” or missing in Baghdad …“Mako security, mako water, mako electricity, mako state, mako government, mako employment, mako fuel, mako services.”

Iraqis are renowned/distinct for their saying “Shakoo Makoo”… every time two Iraqis meet, they ask each other, “what’s the news?”

In an internet café on Ramadan street in al Mansour district, a well-to-do area or one which used to be prosperous, young men and women, aged between 16 and 26, meet and discuss the latest developments in their lives through MSN messenger or download music or videos. Hassan Ahmad, a 17-year-old student, said, “I own a computer at home and am subscribed to the internet. But if there is no phone line and mako electricity, how am I meant to get connected to the internet?”

Amid a lack of cinemas, youth centers and sport facilities, and in the midst of desperate economic conditions, young Iraqis are increasingly leaving their studies to find employment to support their families. “We play at war and fighting”, said Hassa. “We sleep to the sounds of explosions and wake up to them. We have grown up with fighting, from the Iran-Iraq war, the liberation of Kuwait and the recent war.”

Hisham Safa, aged 21, wonders if his studies will guarantee his and his family’s future. “Our future is unknown. My sister and brother completed their university education. She is a pharmacist and he is an engineer but they are unemployed. Will the situation improve? How and when? Our situation is worsening. Saddam is gone and in his place there are a hundred Saddams now!”

One of a handful of young women at the internet café, Asma Ali, aged 19, accompanied her brother Muntassir, 17, to chat via the internet with their cousin in Canada. “We own two computers at home and are subscribed to the internet and an electric generator. However, mako fuel for the generator and we only receive an hour of electricity during the day and one at night. Our generation suffers from gloom and despair. We can’t walk in the street or in the markets because we face the danger of being kidnapped or killed. I can’t visit my girl friends or practice any hobby. Our only pastime is to keep an eye on the electricity….we turn off the generator, turn on the fridge and washing machine… the electricity is cut off and we turn the generator on again. This is our life.”

“I stopped going to school because it became dangerous. We now watch satellite channels when the electricity is available. Tell me, what sort of life is this? My uncle’s family was lucky and emigrated to Canada. My cousin tells me about her life there. It seems extraordinary to me. Is this the paradise the US and the new governments promised us? Is this the democracy they promised?”

In an amazing outburst that ought to worry Iraqi officials and the Bush administration that remains hopeful democracy will take hold in Iraq, Asma said, “We want a dictator to rule us on condition he provides us with security, services and a future. I don’t care about this imaginary promises and democracy as long as problems are killing our youth.”

Her brother Muntassir seemed more interested in collecting pictures and the latest news about luxury sports cars. “I come here to visit sites where I can see the latest models of Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Austin Martin and others. Of course, I don’t even think about buying one but I wish I could drive one… perhaps one day I will become rich or my father will be appointed to the cabinet and can [embezzle] lots of money… as it is alleged the majority of government ministers are doing.”

The current mako generation is cause of great concern, says Sadqi al Rabei, an English-language teacher. “I feel sad and depressed when I think about the situation of our youths. They are intelligent and are familiar with computer without being taught. They learned English from the internet. When I ask them why they have been absent from school, they say what are we studying for? Or they give excuses such as a bomb exploding next to their home or the road was shut. Or they reply honestly, mako benefit from studying.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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