A grim outlook for some Iraqis
October 21st, 2011
04:35 PM ET

A grim outlook for some Iraqis

By CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon.

Editor's note: Damon has been reporting from Iraq since 2003

I met a young woman, 21-year-old Noof Assi, in Baghdad on my most recent trip to Iraq in September. She says, “I have dreams, I was born a dreamy girl”. But then she pauses and adds: “Sometimes the reality just tells me – wake up.”

Baghdad is not a city that she can dream in. Noof is a gutsy woman. She drives herself around Baghdad, ignoring the Iraqi security forces at checkpoints intent on harassing her for being a female driver.  She demonstrates, despite the government occasionally taking a page out of the historical pagebook and deciding to use brute force and intimidation to silence those who speak against it.

She had survived the worst of it, navigating through al Qaeda killing fields to get to high school, haunted by the images of corpses she saw on a regular basis. But last year, two car bombs targeting the trade bank of Iraq exploded next to her home, destroying her only real sanctuary.

Now Noof says, “When I lost my kingdom, when I lost everything in it, I started to think I have nothing in my own country. I love Baghdad but Baghdad doesn’t love me.”

Sadly, the security situation as the United States prepares to fully withdraw the military is exactly the same as it was a year ago when those bombs demolished Noof’s home.  The numbers of attacks per day across the country has not changed in more than a year.  Also in the last year, the government has accomplished, by most counts, nothing. More than 19 months after elections, it hasn’t even fully formed.

People who a year ago told me they were optimistic about the future of Iraq are now stunningly grim.  Iraqis who are eligible for refugee status to America are still scrambling to get their applications through before the program closes.  Many who vowed never to leave their homeland are exploring their options.

There is some, but not enough, faith in the Iraqi security forces.  There are very real concerns that Iran is only further extending its tentacles into its neighbor. There are alarming signs that the sectarian fissures are beginning to emerge once again.

Fear still permeates everything. Fear of the present and fear that the future still holds the worst for a nation and a people that have been through so much.

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • Obama • Pentagon
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Carrie

    It is true that this is a gamble but one thing to have in mind is that if for just say you buy some cunerrcy and it only goes up to lets say five cents you will still recoup and make some money back. I will probably wont throw my life savings at it but you are buying a chance that the value of the iraqi dinar will repeat history.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:10 am | Reply
  2. frontgate


    October 22, 2011 at 12:58 am | Reply
  3. VistaPoint

    All wars have two winners – the gun manufacturers and the coffin makers; everyone else lose

    October 22, 2011 at 12:40 am | Reply
    • yeaand

      dont forget GE aircraft engines and sikorsky helicopters and lockheed martin and....

      October 22, 2011 at 1:02 am | Reply
  4. James

    ummmm... why do we now call every terrorist attack Al Quaeda? Also, why do we call rebels now, "insurgents". The media has really done a number on us all. The bottom line is, we invaded a country and all invasions throughout history encounters a rebel resistance (with a few exceptions in the case of a protracted war). I am pretty sure this war will not end well for anyone once we leave but that was inevitable.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:40 am | Reply
  5. TeaPartyIdiot

    The will always be suicide bombers in Iraq. The Army could stay there until the coming of the Messiah and that will not stop the bombing.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:40 am | Reply
  6. Brian

    "think if someone comes to our country and tell us how to live our lives. What do you think we will do? I bet we will all take up arms to get rid of them.".................................Go to an Indian reservation and ask that question to a Native American and see what their response is.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:26 am | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Wow, ask a native American? You have probably never even been out of your mom's basement. Iraq will have issues for years to come, just like America did while leaving the British empire. Don't make stupid comments about how the Indians feel because they weren't alive when it happened. At least make a correlation that makes sense.

      October 22, 2011 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • OZGOD

      Maybe we should have asked the Native Americans back at the time we did invade their country. I do recall a few of them taking up arms at the time.

      October 22, 2011 at 12:49 am | Reply
      • Jeremy

        Go ahead. I don't see Americans occupying Iraq and taking over their lands. There is a huge difference between then and now and what is happening. You people need to seriously start thinking before you respond. Compare and contrast. Look it up.

        October 22, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • yeaand

      forget all that, what about the black peoples reparations!!

      October 22, 2011 at 1:03 am | Reply
  7. doomed by PC

    Unfortunately, the Iraqis who have helped us will be thrown to the dogs when we leave.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:26 am | Reply
  8. VistaPoint

    Iraqis will be fine. It is our ego that is making us want to believe that the world runs because of us. People have lived these parts of the world for thousands of years and they have done fine, even before US came into existence and will do fine in the future. So let us stop kidding ourselves by saying the world will collapse we are are not their to solve their problem. We need to realize that we are outsiders; think if someone comes to our country and tell us how to live our lives. What do you think we will do? I bet we will all take up arms to get rid of them.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:13 am | Reply
  9. kamarasune

    It was never about the people. It was about DE-fanging their country and stealing their oil and letting the banking cartel coil around their wealth.

    October 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Reply
    • OZGOD

      Don't forget all those rich reconstruction contracts that the likes of Halliburton grew fat on after the invasion.

      October 22, 2011 at 12:51 am | Reply
  10. Isaac

    You do not trust an Arab even 6 feet under . Even than you have got to go to check his grave . This are sexually perverted people . I am an Iraqi jew who left Iraq 62 years ago(1 year old) . My father who was born and raised there used to tell me " I have never met an Arab I can trust . It is a good thing we are leaving this god forsaken country I wish them all the worse .

    October 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • Julia Simmons Afaghi

      your racism is typical of Zionists who kill Palestine people same as Hiiter did to jews. Have you ever wondered why jews never get along with their neighbors anywhere they go>

      October 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Reply
      • sirock

        From 1517 to 1917 Turkey controlled the areas we know as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel. During World War I Turkey supported Germany. When Germany lost the war, Lebanon and Syria were assigned to France... and the area we know as Jordan and Israel was mandated to Great Britain.

        The Jews of numerous Arab countries had already begun mass immigration into that area in the 1880's in an effort to rid the land of swamps and malaria. This Jewish dangerous and painstaking effort to turn uninhabitable marsh and malaria and mire into livable property was actually becoming successful. The Jewish revitalization of the land was paying off and then and only then attracted a large immigration of Arabs from neighboring areas who were drawn by employment opportunities and healthier living conditions than the Arab countries they were living in.

        In 1923, the British divided this area and gave 75% of the land to the Arabs and 25% to the Jews. The Arabs launched never-ending murderous attacks upon the Jews in an effort to drive them out. Most terrifying were the Hebron massacres of 1929 and later during the 1936 to 1939 "Arab Revolt." The British at first tried to maintain order but soon (due to the large oil deposits being discovered throughout the Arab Middle East) turned a blind eye. It became painfully clear to the Jews that they must fight the Arabs AND drive out the British.

        The Jews were forced to form an organized defense against the Arabs, thus was formed the Hagana, the beginnings of the Israeli Defense Forces. There was also a Jewish underground called the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin (who later became Prime Minister of Israel). Besides fighting the Arabs, the Irgun was instrumental in driving out the pro-Arab British. Finally in 1947 the British had enough and turned the problem over to the United Nations.

        The 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 partition plan was to divide the remaining 25% that the Jews were living in, into a Jewish State and a second Palestinian State. The Jews accepted the UN plan. The Arab Palestinians rejected it. The Arabs still wanted ALL of the land both east AND west of the Jordan River.

        On May 14, 1948 the Jews finally declared their own State of Israel and became "Israelis." On the next day, seven neighboring Arab armies... Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen... invaded Israel. Most of the Arabs living within the boundaries of the newly declared "ISRAEL" were encouraged to leave by the invading Arab armies to facilitate the slaughter of the Jews and were promised to be given all Jewish property after the victorious Arab armies won the war. The truth is that 70% of the Arabs who left in 1948 – perhaps 300,000 to 400,000 of them – never saw an Israeli soldier! They did not flee because they feared Jewish soldiers or Jewish thugs…. But because of a rational and reasonable calculus: the Jews will be exterminated; we will get out of the way while that messy and dangerous business goes forward, and we will return afterwards to reclaim our homes, and to inherit those nice Jewish properties as well. They guessed wrong; and the Arabs are still tortured by the residual shame of their flight.

        The remaining 30% either saw for themselves that these Jews would fight and die for their new nation and decided to pack up and leave or they were driven off the land as a normal consequence of war.

        When the, nineteen month war, ended, Israel survived despite a 1% loss of its entire population! Those Arabs who did not flee became today's Israeli-Arab citizens. Those who fled became the seeds of the first wave of "Palestinian Arab refugees."

        In the final analysis, the Arabs of Palestine ended up with nearly 85% of the original territory of that area, and it’s called Jordan, or in reality, their ARAB Palestinian state! But that was still not 100% and thus the conflict between Arab and Jew for "Palestine" continues through wars and continuous Arab terrorist attacks upon Israeli citizens.

        October 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • sirock

        When has their ever been a country called Palistine? Didn't Arafat make the name up in the late 60's. He was born in Egypt before in the 20's right? Israel became a country in 47, humm Afaghi stop your lies

        October 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
      • Rick

        The Hagana and Irgun were terrorist groups, that bombed a hotel frequented by westerners as well as attacks on civilian population.

        Arabs weren't there until the 1800s? are you st-u-pid? An entire coastline is uninhabitated until the 1800s? So what towns were being conquered during mideval period by the crusaders on the way to Jerusalem?

        "The 1947 U.N. Resolution 181 partition plan was to divide the remaining 25% that the Jews were living in, into a Jewish State and a second Palestinian State. The Jews accepted the UN plan. The Arab Palestinians rejected it. The Arabs still wanted ALL of the land both east AND west of the Jordan River."
        The "75%" wasnt from east of the Jordan River, its from west of the Jordan River. How much land do the Palestinians have now? Jews took it through war and even during peace they take it through deceipt.

        What does your God say in the Torah about deceipt? I'm sure lying is not permitted or honrable. When you meet your maker we'll see what He has to say about how you've acquired your holy land. Through genocide, manipulation, lies, and deceipt. I'm sure hell be very proud of you.

        October 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • dad

      Arab do not trust Jews either and I am glad you left 60 years ago..

      October 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  11. Bob

    The only people upset this war is ending are the following employees at

    -Hallibuton Corp
    -Rich defense contractors in Arlington, Va.

    They made their millions, and will likely lobby for another war in some part of the world so government can again begin to engage their services.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Thanks for that comment BOB > you poor, broke, bias person.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Reply
      • Evan

        It is foolish to assume Bob was one of those poor, broke, and biased disgruntled employees who worked for the defense companies he cited before their taxpayer funded party abruptly ended.

        October 22, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • SurRy

      Agreed (BTW, I'm not poor, broke or biased).

      October 22, 2011 at 12:03 am | Reply
  12. Frank

    What a waste. George W.Bush and company should all be charged. This was a fabricated war that has cost the U.S. a lot of lives and money for many years to come.

    October 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Biggerdawg

      She had it better before? Saddam's sons would have raped and assaulted her sooner or later. Bush didn't make these animals, they were already lost.

      October 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Yep > Frank thinks it was the Garden of Eden !! Love when people like Frank, who i would guess took 3 years to get pass 5th grade makes comments like that..

        October 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Geez

      I cant help but wonder if you also believe that Bill Clinton should be investigated... after all it was his intell that the whole WMD fiasco was based on.

      October 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Reply
      • RIGHT

        Yes, I remember now, Bill Clinton and I sat down and created a whole stack of documents and pictures on his Apple Computer... little did we know that anyone would be stupid enough to take these items, all on pink paper, seriously.

        I guess you just can't underestimate the stupidity of anyone in the Republic Party...

        October 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  13. Swap

    lets hope Libya is not taken over by Islamic fundamentalists.

    October 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Reply
    • spudman

      At long last, this appalling foreign policy decision to start a war against Saddam Hussein has ended. Republican opposition to the results is predictably polictical. They only rationalle for continuing the war is that "so many of our troops have died and been wounded there". The exact same philosphy was used to continue the Vietnam War in the 70's. Whether we pull out or not, the outcome is the same. Tens of thousands Iraqi's killed, tens of thousands of American troops wounded and thousands killed, and 100's of billion dollars wasted. And in return, we have a pro-Iranian theocracy in the making. It is time to get out of this rediculous war that should never have happened in the first place but was the brain child of brainless fools.

      October 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Reply
      • Frank

        One of the worst decisions ever made by the U.S. it has lost so much.

        October 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
      • patrick carr

        i couldn't have said it better. the idea that we should remain longer because so many troops have been killed is horrible

        October 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  14. Russell Spencer

    Perhaps the dumbest thing we did when we went in there was fire the Iraqi army. I feel we should have destroyed Saddam's circle and left the rest of the Iraqi army intact to patrol their own streets and a have our forces stay out of the cities. For contracting supplies we should have hired Iraqis and not Americans like Halliburton to put them to work so they couldn't have picked up a rifle. Only the Kurds have really prospered. Now there will be a civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites. Iran won't gain control of Iraq because the Saudis will baclk the Sunnis and so will the US forces will be stationed in Kuwait an Jordan to step in, only after thousands more Iraqis have died from the civil war

    October 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Yes, the Cheney – Rumsfeld click was either very stupid or criminal for disbanding the Ieaqi Army.
      I think they did it on purpose on orders from the Saudis.

      October 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • Dawn

      You are right!! I lived in two dictatorships: East Germany and Franco's Spain. Dictators have large armies, more to control the people inside the country than for any other purpose. The people in the military do not love their dictator. They are just playing the game. The Iraqi soldiers would have helped with a government transition. U.S. soldiers would have been required to give special attention to specific problems: Kurdish vs. Arabs in the north and Iran's influence in the south. However, the United States military would not have been handling everything. Nobody wants their country to be occupied by foreign troops.

      October 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  15. fistface

    A grim outlook for some Iraqis – Really? And you call this Journalism? Or is this "faux" news that CNN tends to lace our society with? See the people in that picture that "supposedly" have a grim outlook? Hand them a gun on the way out of the country, shake their hand, and tell them to fight for the life they want....... their dictatorship is toppled.... and they are a free peoples.

    October 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    • YaNo

      I think your screen name pretty well describes your respect for anything living, and the level of civilization you've not managed to achieve.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  16. Mycology

    Grim outlook for Iraqis:

    If you are a Christian Iraqi: the outlook is grim

    If you are a Jewish Iraqi: You've already fled to Israel or been killed

    If you are a shiite Iraqi in a sunni area: the outlook is grim

    If you are a sunni iraqi in a shiite area: the outlook is grim

    if you are a secular muslim in a religious area: the outlook is grim

    If you are in a muslim country: The outlook is GRIM!

    October 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • ComSenseWiz

      Eventually, things will deteriorate to Sunnistan, Shiitestan and Kurdistan. And like any "stan", all POS countries than can not break out of the tribal way of life. It is predictable and our time and treasury spent there will prove to have been a waste.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Reply
    • Raoole

      Some corrections to your remark. The Iraqi Jews refused to moved to Israel in 50s but Israel bombed their temples and blamed it on the Muslims. (check the net for the facts). Most of the killing of American soldiers in Iraq were done by Sunni Muslims financed and armed by Saudi Arabia.

      October 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  17. Wes

    According to the Department of Energy, Iraq has well over 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. That is roughly one trillion dollars worth of oil. And now we are to feel sorry for the people of Iraq? Uh....No. I feel sorry for the homeless in the United States.

    October 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  18. Mahhn

    All Iraq needs is "one" person there to stand up and say things like: Hey lets make these laws, becouse they protect you and your famialy and inforce them on everyone exactly the same.
    One leader like the Dali Lama (but their own person) could make Iraq one of the best places on earth.
    I see oppertuity.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • Ignant

      Back away from tree, it doesn't like to be hugged. By the way, you spell like shiite! Get a grip on reality Mahhn! Take off your rose colored glasses, rub your eyes and you'll see that your ideas died during the Vietnam war. Sheesh.

      October 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  19. Mrbluiis

    Oh, I think things will be different. The troops will come home for a month or so and then be re-deployed to start a war in Iran over that Ambassidor assination attempt.
    But I got to say that I didn't approve of the war in the first place but consider this. It proved to the world that no dictator is invincible and that all citizens should have hope. 10 years later we have accomplished alot.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  20. lairbear

    I think once we are out of Iraq, it is possible the radical religious freeks will attempt to take over and those that do not follow their beliefs, will be killed by the thousands.
    I realise this is a strong statement on my behalf and hopefully this will never happen.
    May the people of Iraq continue the road to Democracy and stand togeather in the name of freedom. As long as they do, then we may see a new Iraq.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  21. Pat

    You cannot civilize these people. They will have to figure it out by themselves. I feel bad that they were born in such a dung-hole of a country, but it's not my fault and it's certainly not my responsibility to "fix" that. We should never have gone into Iraq militarily to begin with. They don't want us there and we need to leave now. We are not the world's police force and it's time we stopped trying to make the rest of the world into a democracy that matches our own. Enough already!

    October 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  22. v_mag

    I was out in the streets protesting this war before it started, and not just once. People laughed at us then, but all these years of war have gotten us nothing. Nobody's laughing now.

    Please, the next time somebody rattles a sabre, think first before you fall in line with all the sheep and believe what your government tells you. As Nancy Rayguns would say, "Just say NO." We didn't have to be in this position, but once we made a move on Iraq, we locked ourselves in to the situation we have now. We need to remember that we were screwed from Day 1. We didn't remember Vietnam, so now we get to remember Iraq.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      I remember Vietnam, and the similarities are startling. This war, like Vietnam, was very unpopular here at home. We just didn't have the protests and rioting with this one like we did with Vietnam. We clearly didn't win Vietnam, and we didn't win this one either. We need to stop and think about that before we ever repeat a mistake like this.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • Rags

      .... and we'll remember Bush. Remember the George W. Bush's infamous Mission Accomplished speech on the Iraq war? Look it up, Just do a search on 'bush mission accomplished'

      October 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Reply
    • Abdul

      I have some dinars and do not know how much they are worth here. It is not much as they were from an army frenid that was in Iraqi Kuwait. Some say 1/4, 1/2, 20, then I have 55 that have Saddams face on them. Can you help? I also have some coins.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:16 am | Reply
      • Isaac

        As far as I am concern they can all go to hell .and burn in hell . Islam brought nothing but destruction for this beautiful land . The only cure way for them is to renounce Islam.

        An x Iraqi Jew

        May 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  23. scrambolo

    The Iraqi people will be at each other's throats within one year from the U.S. Troop withdrawals. The two large factions are the Shia Muslims and the Sunni Muslims. They hate each other and will be in civil war, with the help of Iran, By January of 2013! I have believe this since we started this war in Iraq on false premises. We have spent over a TRILLION dollars, lost over 4000 of our soldiers with countless others maimed and wounded, and created an atmosphere where the Iraqi's will hate us for several generatins and we will have gained NOTHING!

    October 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Vive Le Kurdistan!!!!!!!!!!

      October 22, 2011 at 12:50 am | Reply
  24. the_dude

    Just a horrible cluster*^&$ of a mess with no way of fixing it. We would have been better off to lay waste to every square inch of that country.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • william

      dude- you got that dead right- the first correct analysis of the whole mess. The innocents wouldn't be there to go in fear of their lives and the hate filled islams would be gone-at least from that area.

      October 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  25. rrock

    Well at least it only cost us a couple trillion dollars that we borrowed from China.

    October 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  26. Mudbone

    I just wish that us staying there would amount to some real change....but I am afraid it will not. The Iraqis need to form their own future. We have shown them the path but they must take it on their own. I just hope the Arab Spring comes to Iraq and wakes them up to their potential. Good luck and God speed!

    October 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • There is no Arab Spring

      What spring is that, Mudbone? Judging by the experience in Egypt, they're on the road to exchange one dictator for another. Already they have Sharia law, which they didn't have under Saddam.

      October 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • Jon

      Um... don't you mean Mubarak?

      October 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Reply
      • Wahyuni

        Devastating to your fellow man, but love and piroectton of Mother Earth. That is why I am a staunch advocate of nuetron bomb. No construction debris, perhaps a collapsed building up if the neutron bomb happened to him is fallen.Es very important for every conquering nation to keep property values high, so that they can sell them and recoup the costs of the war.VA:F [1.9.13_1145]please wait...VA:F [1.9.13_1145](from 0 votes)

        May 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm |

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