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Spare a moment for Iraq, Syria


A colleague from Iraq I met a few months ago made a profound statement to the effect the ordinary Iraqi citizen feels they were better off under Saddam Hussein than the corrupt, incompetent and sectarian-focused government of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

Rashweat Mukundu

I argued then that maybe Al-Maliki is as bad as Saddam and the nostalgia is misplaced noting that Saddam murdered, jailed and tortured thousands.

Now that Iraq is imploding with many thousands being senselessly murdered by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), I am almost persuaded that one of the fundamental needs of any society has been irrevocably breached in Iraq, that is peace and respect for life and the rights of civilians, even in a conflict situation.

Those interested in and following events in others parts of the world, Iraq included, would agree with me that the many video clips of the murders of civilians and captured soldiers alike by ISIS is beyond human comprehension and is, in my view, a genocide of immense proposition in the making.

Many clips show many men and women, the old and the young, some who are clearly civilians being herded like cattle into the desert and some towards water ponds and rivers where they are shot like animals.

Even animals are given some respect of sorts. I am shocked that the world pretends that all is well, with many entertainment activities, soccer matches, music concerts taking place when in another part of the world fellow human beings are being massacred in what is turning out to be a senseless war.

I am equally shocked when powerful nations with the means to at least halt this genocide, that includes the US government, say they don’t have a strategy as yet.

What is happening in Iraq is far worse than what Muammar Gaddafi did or was doing in Libya and one can argue that Libya faced a balanced conflict with the rebels pitted against Gaddafi evenly armed and fighting back.

It is on the basis of Libya that the US pronounced the Obama doctrine, based on defending innocent civilians against murderous regimes, no matter where and how these manifest.

The Western intervention in Libya resulted in the death of Gaddafi and the start of more, even worse, confusion in Libya.
In essence Libya has never and will never be the same.

Now the world is caught up in the Iraq crisis whose roots can be traced back to the conflict in Syria.

The video clips of beheaded civilians and many being shot simply for being a Christian or belonging to this or the other Islamic religious sect or tribe is clear demonstration of how far the world is from being civilised.

In the age of the Internet, and fast-flowing information, the international community is as guilty as ISIS in ignoring and watching in awe the genocide in Iraq without doing anything.
The fact that in the 21st Century our societies are numb to such murder means that we have lost something about humanity.

Wars have always been bad and no one war situation is a picnic, but wars have also been targeted, about noted differences and could be ended by negotiation.

But in Iraq civilians are being murdered for simply being who they are either religion-wise and/or tribally, and in all this the likes of United States President Barack Obama says he has no strategy as yet.

One can ask: What differentiates Iraq from Libya? Is the blood of those civilians in the ISIS-controlled areas not as precious as the blood of the civilians that Gaddafi was spilling in Libya?
Why can’t the world move in to protect the civilians in these areas without necessarily expressing or acting on ambitions beyond such a mission?

The events in Iraq are a warning and a message to the rest of us, on how evil we can potentially all be and indeed how uncivilised and barbaric humanity has become.

This amid talk of human developments in science and other areas beyond imagination. The lessons for us as Zimbabweans are many and varied.

That the peace we enjoy is as vulnerable and ultimately depended on our respect for each other.

Violence begets violence no matter how powerful you think you are and violence creates a vicious cycle that will take decades to end, if at all.

Ultimately the key lesson is that Zimbabweans must be able to resolve their differences on the basis of a desire to see common development and that we remain one family held together by our common nationality and common destiny.

I do not wish to see what I am seeing in Iraq being done on either a Zanu PF or MDC person.

If there is any evidence of human regression, Iraq and Syria are right before us. And if there is any evidence that a people are masters of their own destiny, the evidence is right before us as the world ignores the murders and procrastinates on any response.

The lenses and frames that we use as citizens to define Zimbabweaness must be defined by us otherwise we will suffer the fate of the poor Iraqis who had promises of freedom and ended with blood flowing even more than in the past.

The world needs a new approach to resolving conflict, and the rest of us must be appalled by genocide no matter where it is taking place.

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