Reassessing Consequences of Occupation in Iraq

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Evidence of the two occupations that Iraq has experienced — the British occupation at the end of 1914 and the US invasion in 2003 — can still be found in the country's cemeteries and bridges, and the gifts, souvenirs, medals, weapons and military suits kept by Iraqis.

These objects now hold a symbolic value for Iraqis, and they stir up mixed feelings: positive feelings in regard to the exposure to and alliance with developed countries, and negative feelings that only see in these invasions black pages that must be turned.

The British soldiers’ cemetery in Al-Wazireya region in Baghdad dates to 1914. Twenty years ago, it looked like a European cemetery, with its green spaces, plants, trees and graves. People visited it, especially students. But now it is abandoned, and some gravestones are ruined, not to mention that the plants and trees are no longer cared for.

Visitors are rare these days, too. This landmark brings back memories of a pivotal event in the history of Iraq. It can be considered a tangible document on which are written the names of British and Indian soldiers who perished during World War I, including the leader of the British campaign, Lt. Gen. Frederick Stanley Maude, who died in 1917 in Iraq and was buried in this cemetery.

Al-Monitor paused at the grave of British historian and writer Gertrude Bell, who was dubbed “the maker of kings.” She worked as an adviser to British Chief Political Officer Percy Cox in the 1920s, and she died in 1926. The past that historians and political writers dwell on is right here, under these marble stones.

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