By Mohamed Babikir (Sudan)

       As a child, I  lived in Iraq for two  years. I played with Iraqi kids in Basra’s streets, ate the soft, lovely dates from Baghdad's trees, went to school and planted the seeds of education took root in me. Even though I wasn't old enough to analyze political issues at that age, it seemed to me that people were satisfied with their living conditions, but not with their government leadership. The civilian Iraqis were subject to different kinds of torture under the dictator, Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq for over thirty years. Under his rule, people needed wisdom, love, and freedom. Indeed, experiencing their needs, I felt helpless, sad, and angry when the world was silent in the face of the dictator's brutality.

     An unforgivable tragedy occurred in march 2003 when the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, declared war against Iraq. The Bush administration claimed that Iraq’s president was a serious threat to the world because of his ability to develop nuclear weapons. However, the reports from Iraq showed the exact opposite. In fact, the Iraqis were far from creating the enriched uranium needed to develop nuclear weapons. The war with it’s dim shadow triggered mass destruction, death, and suffering for the Iraqi people. It is indisputable that under Saddam’s regime not only did the Iraqis suffer from his leadership, but the whole region of the Persian gulf was threatened. For instance, the Iraqi army's invasion of Kuwait in 1991 was a threat to peace in the region. Despite the fact that Iraq and the whole region faced instability and chaos under Saddam’s leadership, the U.S. should have provided a better solution.

      Unfortunately,  neither George Bush nor Saddam Hussein are suffering the consequences of this war; instead, the innocent civilians are the ones who are victimized: their streets are filled  with  dead  bodies, the air is rife with the horrible scent of fresh blood, and the children are crying in the night, fearful and unable to sleep. This is the sad reality of life in Iraq.

           The situation is worsening with the accelerating civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites, who together make up 83% of the population. This civil war seriously threatens the security of the entire region. The Sunnis are centered in the  north near their ancestral land, Syria. Iraq’s proximity to Syria brings the possibility of spirited war. The Shiites are centered in the south next to Iran . The geographical location  of  the country, the diversity  of  the culture, and the  increasing hatred  for  the U.S. make it a deadly battlefield for U.S. troops.

     Moreover, the war has destroyed much of the infrastructure and natural resources of Iraq. For example, the Forat Dam was  totally  damaged in early 2004, leaving around one-third of  the population without clean drinking water. The scariest scenario of all is the terror Iraqis live with, a terror from both sides, the al-Qaeda network and the Bush Administration .

               I wonder for how long the country with the third largest supply of oil will have to struggle just to feed its own people. If we can provide Iraqis with paper and pens instead of guns and bullets, Sunni, Shia,and Kurdish kids will all share the play yard.