May 19

Dispatch from Iraq: A Quick Report from Baghdad

"One of my friends was very excitedly telling me, touch on wood, that it had been two years since they had a suicide bombing."

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Welcome back to another dispatch from Hollie McKay.  How are you doing?

I'm doing well, thank you.

Very good. Hey, first thing you're back in Iraq. What's changed there?

So, I'm in Baghdad at the moment. Last time I was here was 2018. There is still a lot of ISIS fighting happening. It’s still a very tense situation in much of the country.

Every country has its problems, and its security issues. Baghdad is certainly no exception to that. But, right now, it's not the war scenario that Baghdad had been for many decades.

That's a pretty big change.

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There's a question for you on the Internet asking do you consider the situation in Iraq to be stable these days?

You know, I think when you compare how Iraq or has been in many in past years, there's certainly a much higher sense of stability.

Now mind you, there are still a lot of Daesh attacks. There is regrouping, particularly around Ramadi and Fallujah. Those areas are very much Sunni hotspots, and have long been hotspots for terrorism, whether it be Al Qaeda or ISIS. Those places are still breeding extremism. Those areas are not as stable as the capital Baghdad.

But, one of my friends was very excitedly telling me, touch on wood, that it had been two years since they had a suicide bombing. That was a real real victory for them.

So, I think from a security point, and it depends on who you talk to, a lot of people would still take issue with the PMF which are supported by Iran and the Shia. They don't like the word militias; but essentially, Shia militias, Some people perhaps take issue with that; but others look to them for the extra security. So, it really does depend.

Yesterday there were several protests over the rising prices of flour and gas. A lot of that is an outcome of the Ukrainian war in addition to the massive financial crisis that is gripping much of the world, inflation, and other things. People are struggling to make ends meet. So, there is that tenuous security aspect.

Quite frankly, Iraq doesn't have a functioning government right now. They've been trying since the elections in October to form a government. Sada got the majority. He still has to appoint people, there have to be a lot of steps, and it is a complicated constitution that the US initiated.

Of course, that really isn't working out right now. So, you're looking months down the track. Iraq doesn't really have a proper government. It may end up going to reelection, which a lot of people do want because they again point to the good old corruption as having been a problem in the last election.

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That's a good recap of the country situation. I've got another question for you. This one is more cultural. How are things going in terms of arts, dance, music, other forms of expression, particularly for the children?

Yeah, well, right now I'm just. About to head off to a ballet school, which is great. It's an Iraqi ballet school for children. From that point of view, girls, boys, there's a lot of artistic participation, that's very much encouraged, especially in children.

You know everywhere you go in Iraq there's art and beautiful paintings. You know, very much a pride in in its place as the cradle of civilization; you see a lot of that. I think it's something that is strongly encouraged and something that's growing.

Obviously, groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS are not supportive of something like a ballet school and that has been subject to debate and attacks in recent years. But right now, it's something that is flourishing, and I think that gives us a lot of hope.

Not that I ever like to compare places or things but if we look at the two running wars being Afghanistan and Iraq that the US was in for many years and we compare those situations now, it does make me very sad for the girls in Afghanistan that not only don't have the same opportunities to go to school, but certainly anything like ballet or music, which is strictly forbidden.

Yeah, it just sort of reminds me of that and how sad that is.

OK, well very good. Hey I know you're you are busy and you need to get going so that's the flash update. Thank you very much and we look forward to the next one.

Thank you, Dennis.


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