As I write this letter, Iraq’s fortunes hang in a delicate, dangerous balance.
Politicians horse-trade, bombs continue to kill innocents and Iraqis get on with the art of survival.
‘Iraq is finished,’ a middle-aged man told me on my trip to the beleaguered nation in March. And indeed at times it felt like that: a broken, divided and ultimately colonized place.
But, as always, it was the young people who inspired hope. A young actor, who had survived sanctions, Saddam and post-invasion violence, and who was rehearsing for a play about a beloved and fiercely nationalist poet, told me: ‘I love my country.’ And his statement was heartfelt.
I often wonder about the children in this photo, taken in 1998 when I was reporting on the US bombing campaign called Desert Fox. Even the day after bombing, in the midst of a crippling embargo, they displayed so much joy and resilience. What has become of them now? And what will the future hold for their children?
This issue offers only a handful of stories from a people who have suffered through decades of war, sanctions and occupation. But I hope it will give you a sense of the Iraqi spirit – al roh al iraqiya – that sustains them and has so touched me.
And our special feature by Rwandan genocide survivor Jean Baptiste Kayigamba brings home both the damage done to victims of war and sectarian violence, and the urgent need to bring those accountable to justice.
Hadani Ditmars for the New Internationalist co-operative.