that infrastructure and reconstruction projects are big business in iraq is not news. the country is in need of rebuilding after years and generations of conflict. conflict following independence, civil war, regional wars, dictatorship, genocide and western intervention - whatever the true motivation for that may have been.
what cannot be denied is the identity of those who have truly suffered. largely the same group of people who continue to suffer and struggle. whether those individuals or families realise the scale of their suffering is unclear. the only effective infrastructure left in iraq is that of the rumour mill, the numerous and diverse political parties espousing their rhetoric to rally their supporters - for and against the government, for and against different tribal groups, for an against regulation, persecution and perceived suffering.
in iraq the general populous are the sacrificial pawns of the decades old game of strategic alliance building and breaking in highly corrupt political and bureaucratic ruling parties. this has been exacerbated over the course of the last 4 years as the federal and provincial system that was eagerly snatched up by the likes of maliki and allawi from the provisional authority of the US under their occupation was used as a rallying cry for democratising iraq, whilst at the same time has done little else other than provide unstable coalition government. unstable coalition government capable of exacerbating loophole and iron fist to maximise corruption both for themselves and at the provincial level.
iraq is an incredibly wealthy country, full of mineral resources and fertile agricultural land. should the rhetoric between federal iraq and the kurdish administered regions in the north (those areas gassed under saddam's anfal genocide campaign) be allowed to subside following local elections; oil exports could soon reach the 3 million barrels per day mark - out doing the level prior to the baathist dictatorship of saddam hussein. discounting all other contributors to iraq's GDP, this still leaves iraq a wealthy nation.
yet it is a nation torn by infighting and political maneuvering. it is too simple to suggest that this is strictly across tribal lines, that it is the inability of kurds, sunnis and shia to cooperate. given arbitrary boundary lines drawn by the allies in the wake of the first world war to prevent the old ottoman empire of having too much oil resources at its disposal, it is a remarkable feat that modern day iraq has lasted nearly 100 years intact at all.
intact it remains, but at some point in the last 100 years all parties and ethnicities who identify themselves commonly by being of the ancient land of babylon and the land of the ancient rivers of the euphrates and tigris, have come under oppression and hardship during that time. all are untrusting of the allegiances they have formed and all have long memories that can be relied upon by politicians to rally supporters to the call of the day, for or against a specific cause or case. 100 years united by the same flag (save the amendments after the fall of saddam) is nothing less than a miracle.
iraq is again preparing for regional elections. months of protest in the sunni heartlands of the west and counter protests in the south have attempted to provoke early federal elections, not currently scheduled of 2014, but this has so far been unsuccessful.
these elections are the first to benefit from widespread use of social media and telecoms in iraq. the general populous, the majority living in poverty only surviving through government subsistence food programs, are becoming more and more aware of the massive wealth being accrued by those in power. they will know the money is their to improve their situation, but will see politicians incapable of following though on hollow promisses. the sites of promised hospitals, schools, roads, railways, power plants and oil pipelines remain boarded up sites awaiting construction, lit at night only when the sporadic electricity supply happens to be running. hollow promises, but deals done and money and contracts exchanged to move cash out of the country and out of federal and provincial reserves and into the pockets of turkish, chinese, indian and american firms - all of whom have been awarded contracts solely on the kickbacks promised to the department head responsible for the awarding of that tender. there is no fair playing field. the populous is at the mercy of the ruling class again, not through the reign of terror or violence, but through this shambolic bureaucracy's inability to manage anything more than lining their own pockets with gold.
many on the streets who did not personally suffer at the hands of saddam, or whose families avoided the terror he wielded over the country, would admit to preferring his rule over that of the sham democracy of a puppet government from iran. many believe iraq is incapable of managing its own affairs and that some form of altruistic dictatorship would be the only effective means of rebuilding and regenerating a country with such wealth that remains daily on the brink of civil war.
and so the infrastructure projects continue. the electricity projects continue to be awarded to tender, hospitals and schools are promised. but where are they? where is the end result nearly 10 years after the official end of war in iraq?
looking around the cities and highways and oilfields there is plenty of work underway. but it has the feel of some kind of 'hoover-esque damn project'. work for works' sake just to keep people busy and reduce the number of beggars on the streets.
that there is money is undeniable. that there is such drastic poverty only sees to exacerbate the imbalance of power away from the populous and towards a new type of nepotistic coalition dictatorship where the civil service grows daily to allow supporters to feed off the state. such a small group of players determining the fate of so many poor souls. a group controlled as a puppet, with iran, turkey, syria, jordan, saudi arabia and the UAE all pulling strings to control their stakes - or to protect the interests of companies with which they have aligned themselves in order to take their chunk of the iraq people's GDP out of the country.
iraqis are not benefiting from the rebuilding of iraq. they are suffering at the hands of their leadership once again, stoically awaiting the next elections but soon to learn that whomsoever they vote for, the diluting process of forming a stable coalition will serve only to maintain the status quo. oppression maintained.