“Nezalezhnastsi” means “independence” in Ukrainian. Daniel Henninger writes on the burgeoning democracies in Iraq and Ukraine and wonders if the Western European governments, who have supported the opposition in Ukraine over the past few weeks, will support the Iraqi people come January 30.
Iraq’s instability, notably in the country’s center, is well advertised by now. Less appreciated, however, is Iraq’s growing measure of economic stability and vitality.
“Baghdad is booming,” says Mohammed Fadhil Ali, one of three remarkable Ali brothers who oversee the Web log, Iraqthemodel.com. Mohammed and his younger brother Omar came this week to the Journal’s offices, their first trip to the States, to discuss Iraq’s future.
They were not overwhelmed by New York’s holiday crush; Baghdad’s population is roughly 5.7 million people. Stores there are verflowing with goods and the streets jammed with shoppers. It appears that the number of cars has doubled in a year. “The middle class is growing,” says Omar. After the April 9, 2003, “liberation,” Mohammed was determined to photograph every new building in Baghdad. “Now there is a new building in Baghdad every day; I can’t count them all.” Land and real-estate prices are surging. Most of the investment is coming out of the Arab world, not the West.
They made a couple of other interesting points about Iraq’s political mood. One, Iraqis won’t vote for a government dominated by Islamist religionists. Why? The abhorred next-door example of Iran’s mullahs. This mirrors elections already held in Iraq. In a local election last year in Nazariya, with 47,000 votes cast amid imams urging support for Islamic parties, the biggest vote-getters were teachers, engineers and other professionals.
I remain hopeful but not optimistic that France, Germany and other nations opposed to the U.S. involvement in Iraq will respond in kind to the forthcoming Iraqi elections. In any case, we shall soon see.
For first time visitors, I have changed the color of my header to orange in support of the opposition in Ukraine.