A bit dated, but it give you an inside look at how we’re viewed by the folks we're trying to help.
I love your blog, Ali. I wonder, how much are you still troubled by corruption and bribes. Can you get things done without the old system still with its tentacles holding on??
Thanks for your kind words. This question was asked by another reader by mail. I think corruption is a huge problem all over Iraq. One example is what a colleague of mine who works in Ammara told me lately. His hospital is getting renewed by a company that works with the British army. After my friend and his colleagues became tired of waiting for the rebuilding to finish, as it's taken three months till now, they went to the hospital director and asked him how long it was going to take before they can go back to real work instead of sitting their in the ruins doing almost nothing. The director told them that it's going to take a long time because the hospital is going to be renewed and after it's done it would be leveled with the ground to be build again! They told him that he must be kidding and he said he wasn't. They asked him why would he approve of something like that and he said it wasn't his call and that it's the city council that decided that. The city council of that small town (it's called "Ali Al Garbi") is controlled by Sadirists by the way.
It appears that the city council made a contract with the British army to renew the hospital then they made another contract with another party to totally re-build the hospital! It's a perfect way to hide whatever theft they're doing in the renewal process since it's going to be leveled down! It's crazy but that's how it is and my friends feel helpless, as to whom they can complain when these people control everything!? The press isn't strong enough to produce any effect yet.
I want to stress though that the corruption is not new in Iraq at all. It was even much worse before the war, but people just couldn't talk about it. I think the reports that said Iraq has the most corrupt government in the world are very inaccurate. Iraq has probably the most corrupt elected government. In the neighboring dictatorship as well as in Saddam's times it's totally different. *Everything* is owned by the dictator and his thugs and that's worse than any corruption alone yet there was a huge corruption in government offices at Saddam's times. It was just uncovered because of the fear and because Iraq was a totally closed state. Now everyone in the world can know at least some of what's happening down here and that's the only difference and corruption is still less than what it was.
Since the war I never found myself forced to bribe anyone. I had to wait for 7 months to get my salary but no one forced me to pay anything and I was determined not to do so even if it was going to solve the problem fast. In the end I got paid and it was very frustrating but it felt good that got something solved without bribing anyone. Before the war, I like everyone else, we had to bribe someone to get any problem solved when it comes to the government-related problems. I mean you could *never* get anything working without that. Now it's much better although it's still bad compared to other democratic countries. I never had to bribe anyone in any checkpoint since the war, and that was also a problem before the war. Most of those checkpoints (before the war) were places where security guards, policemen or military intelligence use to rob people for very silly reasons. They didn't have a problem with finding an excuse and people had to pay or face a horrible fate.
2nd Lieutenant Jarred Fishman said:
I am now back from US Air Force training where I became an officer. My question is: what is the attitude towards the ING and the IP and the Special Forces? Do the public support them? are they effective at all? Do Iraqis know that the American populace supports them and wants them to be free and have good and peaceful lives? Stay safe!!
Thanks for your kindness and congratulations on your graduation!
The ING and the IP are generally supported by She'at and Kurds and resented by Sunnis, that's generally. I believe they're getting more effective but still some of them are very rude and behave just like Saddam's thugs at times and it gives a really bad image that affects all the ING in the minds of people who already don't trust them and even in the eyes of those who do support them. As I was typing here in an Internet cafe' a patrol of ING was passing the road in front of us a few minutes ago. One of the soldiers fired his AK47 in the air for absolutely no reason, and this happens a lot. I looked at the soldier and he was actually laughing!! It's all because of the unlimited authority they're given to combat terrorists. I think that the major parties are using terrorism as just an excuse sometimes to further strengthen their grip on power. I still have faith that Iraqis won't let that happen again and I have seen many good signs of that.
I think many Iraqis know that Americans support them but not most and there's still a lot that Iraqis don't know. I feel lucky because I have this blog and because I can read English as it has shown me things I could never have known through our media. I never imagined Americans support and care about Iraqis this much before I started blogging. I thought they did but not this much and I feel I know Americans much more now and love them much more as well. More Iraqis need to see what I and other luckier Iraqis have and are seeing.