Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A NEW BEGINNING

Work has prevented me from updating the blog for a while. But I had to write today to talk about the celebration on the streets here. Today, Iraq has a new president and it is a Kurd. Jalal Talabani’s ascendancy from a freedom fighter whose people had been oppressed for decades to leader of a new, democratic Iraq is truly inspiring. On the streets here, the party began in the late morning with residents honking their car horns, displaying pictures of Mam Jalal and waving the Kurdish/Iraqi flags. After two months of political deadlock and negotiations, Iraq is finally moving forward with its democratic experiment. With a satisfactory grin, my co-workers this morning talked about how Saddam was allowed to watch the parliamentary proceedings today that anointed Talabani.

Despite the jovial mood, my Iraqi friends also warned me that the real fight is still ahead: the Constitution. Indeed, the formation over a government was held up by disagreements between the Kurds and Shias over the status of Kirkuk and other issues that will now have to be dealt with in the Constitution. There are also questions of whether Islamic law will be included in the Constitution and other possible contentious issues. And of course, the violence continues.

But tonight after work, I plan to join the celebration on the streets with my Iraqi friends. One of them said “We will tell our children about how we suffered under Saddam, the first Gulf War, the uprisings that followed, the fall of the Saddam regime and the democratic elections. And now we will tell them about the day a Kurd became president of an Arab country. Things are changing.”