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Forgetting Iraq

Zaid Al-Ali, 7 October 2004, Al-Ahram Weekly

It was just as people around the world started believing that the situation was improving, and just as they had started shifting their attention to other matters that I travelled to Iraq — my parents’ native country — for only the second time in my life. Despite everything that I had heard from Iraqi and American governmental officials about the situation there, despite all that I read about the changes that the country has gone through since last year, I was not prepared for what I saw. Information provided by government should always be treated with caution, particularly when the information it provides relates to its own performance and to the consequences of its actions. But in the case of Iraq, the situation has now become totally out of hand: life in Baghdad bears no relationship to the declarations that government officials have been making, nor with the images that we see on our television screens, and that is something that I was only able to truly appreciate after visiting the country myself.

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