News / Middle East

Baghdad Vibrant but Still Dangerous, 8 Years After US Invasion

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid