Ten years ago today, the US invaded Iraq, starting a war that would cost billions of dollars -- and would completely change Iraq forever.
Ali Allawi is Iraq's former Minister of Trade, Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, and author of: "The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace." He lives and works in Baghdad -- a city he barely recognizes from his youth. He describes how the war will be remembered 10 years from now, and what the road forward looks like for his country.
Allawi remembers a time not long ago when Iraq wasn’t as intolerant or demarcated as it is now. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this was a country much more at peace with itself. There was a certain comfort in people’s own skin, there wasn’t a sense of I am this sect or I am that sect. Or I am an Arab, you are a Kurd, you are a muslim. People accommodated each other far, far more easily than they do now.”
Allawi describes a city that has changed completely. He remembers Baghdad as a very attractive place with a strong sense of civic pride, but now he doesn't recognize it. “The population was around 10 million, it’s now 8 million. And Most of old landmarks have either been overwhelmed by urban blight or subject to general degradation. And the neighborhoods are also much more demarcated now. They are much more homogeneous in terms of their ethnic and sectarian makeup, so it is not the city that I knew before.”
“In many ways it is a very difficult environment to work and sustain yourself,” says Allawi. “But the opportunities are there and parts of the country are beginning to get back on its feet fueled by the idea that we do not want to relive the tragedies of the past.”