Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Anglican Vicar: ‘Things Get Worse by the Day in Iraq’
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- Canon Andrew White, the popular ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, says in his latest update from the Middle East, where he serves at St. George’s Church in the Iraqi capital, that “Things are getting worse by the day in Iraq, and most of us do not even know.”
White says that a recent article by Ned Parker, "one of the best journalists reporting on Iraq in my opinion,” gives an excellent insight into the reality of Iraq now.
Parker’s most recent article appeared in the prestigious American magazine, "Foreign Affairs." He also writes for the Times.
In ‘Foreign Affairs,’ to quote briefly, he wrote: ''Nine years after US troops toppled Saddam Hussein and just a few months after the last US soldier left Iraq, the country has become something close to a failed state.
“Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presides over a system rife with corruption and brutality, in which political leaders use security forces and militias to repress enemies and intimidate the general population. The law exists as a weapon to be wielded against rivals and hide the misdeeds of friends. The dream of an Iraq governed by elected leaders answerable to the people is rapidly fading away.”
Parker writes: “The Iraqi state cannot provide basic services, including regular electricity in summer, clean water and decent health care; meanwhile, unemployment among young men hovers close to 30 percent, making them easy recruits for criminal gangs and militant factions.
"Although the level of violence is down from the worst days of the civil war in 2006 and 2007, the current pace of bombings and shootings is more than enough to leave most Iraqis on edge and deeply uncertain about their futures. They have lost any hope that bloodshed will go away and simply live with their dread. Acrimony in the political realm and the violence in the cities create a destabilizing feedback loop, whereby the bloodshed sows mistrust in the halls of power and politicians are inclined to settle scores with their proxies in the streets.''
Canon White says this article “shows the sad reality of the present situation, despite being written before the recent upsurge in violence.”
He adds: “Sadly, this catastrophe has meant that I must forgo my time in the UK with my family and return to Iraq. Urgent work is needed to try and deal with the present crisis. It is going to be very difficult. The temperature is so hot, in the high 50's [Centigrade]. Parliament has even stopped meeting because of the heat and Ramadan [the Muslim Holy Month] is about to begin. The key people who will be working with me on this are the very people who won our peace prize last week.”
Canon White asks for prayer “as we take on this huge challenge.
“Before I return, I am meeting with the Israeli Ambassador, to talk through our much needed work there. The sad fact is that there is so much to do there, not least the revitalization of the Alexandria Process which we began there,’ he said.
“I ask prayers for the family of our closest friend and colleague in Israel, Rabbi Michael Melchior. His dear son, father of four boys, is literally on his deathbed dying of cancer in his 30's. Please pray that our Lord G_d will comfort them in this time of tragedy.”
Canon White said when he next writes, he will be back in Baghdad.
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