Why has this place been neglected, and why does no one visit it anymore?
Author and Iraqi historian Qasim Mozan, from the state-funded Iraqi Al-Sabah newspaper, said, “The reason behind this neglect is the preoccupation of the state and society with past wars and the current deteriorating security situation. Most people are also busy trying to make ends meet, while others see the place as a symbol of the occupation. Others refrain from visiting this cemetery for religious reasons, if their sect dictates it.”
Mozan added, “The British occupation of Iraq must be reassessed far from slogans. This occupation moved Iraq from backwardness to building a fellow state to the UK in terms of administration, ministries, parliament and establishment of civil institutions.”
Civil activist Ahmad Makki, who worked in the services sector between 2005 and 2007 with the US forces at the US Kalsu base in Babil, has kept photos of himself with US soldiers.
He told Al-Monitor that he still fondly remembers those days and wishes he could have kept in touch with his American friends. “Iraqis lost several opportunities to benefit from Americans in the field of setting up civil society and human rights,” he said. He added that they could have benefited from the US presence and that “the US withdrawal from Iraq was premature.”
Makki showed a medal he got from an American soldier, which was engraved with his name, Max. “I was always afraid of being accused of colluding with the Americans during the security strike in Babil. But people currently realize how wrong it was not to take advantage of the US expertise,” he said.
In the same context, Saad Hamid, a former soldier who worked with the US forces in 2006 in Beit al-Wazir camp in Babil, told Al-Monitor, “I still have a military uniform and civilian clothes that an American soldier gave me as a gift.”