News / Middle East

Baghdad Vibrant but Still Dangerous, 8 Years After US Invasion

Ayman Oghanna



U.S. foreign policy changed the moment Islamic terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, and then-President George W. Bush declared a global war on terror. Soon afterwards, U.S. forces attacked terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan, but the Bush administration also considered Saddam Hussein's regime a threat and the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003. Eight years later, the capital still bears the scars of war.

Daily life

The civil war is over in Iraq. On the streets of the capital, Baghdad, Iraqi security forces have monopolized power. The markets are once again full of people, the stores are busy. Inside  Baghdad’s stock exchange, the offices are bustling. There are new restaurants, cafes playing music and ice cream shops are crowded.

In areas that were once off limits because of snipers and car bombs, young couples are once again enjoying  walks in the city's parks, families are going out with their children. It is a city recuperating from years of sectarian, insurgent and gang violence.

After Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein was brought down, street wars between Iraqi's Sunni and Shi'ite militias, criminal groups and nationalist fighters almost brought this ancient city to its knees. In 2006, civil war was just around the corner.

Umm Mohammed,54, sits next to her grandsons as they cool themselves with a water hose during a very hot, sunny day in Baghdad, Iraq, July 31, 2011. AP photo
AP photo


Electricity, water unreliable


Today, those fears are over. But blast walls, barbed wire, bombed out cars are still part of Baghdad's landscape. Electricity is still sporadic. Water is not reliable. There are police and military checkpoints all over the city, and violence still lingers. IED explosions and assassinations continue in the city every day.

Traffic is a mess. Blast walls and checkpoints have choked the streets with congestion. Neighborhoods are still segregated according to religious divisions.

People here are bitter about the legacy of the U.S. invasion - but no-one misses Saddam except his immediate circles. Their frustration is aimed at their own government, one of the most corrupt in the world, but they are finally free to criticize it.

Despite their impact on the fate of this country, the September 11, 2001 attacks never come up in conversation in Baghdad. Afghanistan does not come up. People here care more about the U.S. talk show host Oprah and Turkish soap operas more than the war on terror.

Baghdad is dusty and messy. But out of the chaos is growing a new city, full of danger - but also full of life.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid