Reflections on past and future

Iraq marks 21st anniversary of Ba’ath regime’s fall

BAGHDAD — Today marks the 21st anniversary of the Ba’ath regime’s fall in 2003. On this day, Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad, symbolizing the Ba’ath regime’s downfall.

The event is celebrated throughout Iraq with a public holiday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani reflected on the past two decades, stating, “Iraq regains its strength and historic civilizational journey. It enjoys security and stability, moving forward in development and reconstruction. These achievements were made possible through a long journey of sacrifice, patience, and struggle against tyranny, for which our people paid a high price in lives and a caravan of the best men and women martyrs.”

The Prime Minister condemned the era of dictatorship that led the country into wars, conflicts, spreading hatred in the region, and isolation, causing death, poverty, and regression among Iraqis. “Following the regime’s fall, our people determined their own destiny with perseverance and resolve, creating a bright future, combating terrorism, drafting a permanent constitution, and electing their parliamentary representation and national governments. Then, as evil forces emerged in the form of ISIS, Iraqis united once again, demonstrating an unparalleled commitment to their land and life,” Al-Sudani remarked.

Former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, in an article for Asharq Al-Awsat, reflects on the challenges Iraq faces in establishing a national line free of sectarian and political conflicts. He emphasizes the necessity of moving beyond narrow gains “to embrace a comprehensive state concept.”

Reflecting on his tenure as PM, he emphasized both the individual and collective challenges encountered in the journey towards establishing a cohesive national identity, “During this era, certain individuals and entities actively worked to maintain Iraq’s entrapment within sectarian rhetoric and a closed state mentality, preferring group allegiance” over national unity. “After 21 years, it is time for us to learn from the past and its experiences and the experiences of our brothers and neighbors, so as not to repeat the mistakes,” he added. “The promising future of Iraq, which I always hope for, is based on an understanding of the past and the movement of history. This requires courageous action from all involved.”

In a statement shared on his Facebook page, Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, reflected on the resilience of the Kurdish people in the face of atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, including genocide, the Anfal campaign, the chemical attack on Halabja, the execution of political prisoners, the destruction of villages, mass displacement, and the persecution of the Faili Kurds.

Talabani highlighted, “Despite all these and many other crimes, Saddam and his regime could not break the will of our people. The Kurds have never succumbed to oppression and dictatorship, and certainly, this nation will not submit to any form of subjugation in the future.”

Raed Fahmi, Secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party, has voiced concerns over the unfulfilled aspirations for a democratic system that would fairly utilize the country’s resources. In an interview with Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, Fahmi said, “The new regime treated democracy as merely holding elections, neglecting the building of institutions, the genuine separation of powers, and citizenship.”

He criticized the peaceful transition of power post-Saddam’s regime as being limited to exchanges among the dominant parties, excluding civil, secular, and liberal parties from this process. “Many laws, such as labor laws and those protecting national products, remain inactive due to political reasons, leading to a political competition without regulations akin to declaring a state of war,” he said.