I have a chat about politics with a friend who left Iraq after 2003. What struck me was that he was an intelligent person yet did not have much of an idea of what happened in 1958. A whole generation of Iraqis have grown up with only a superficial knowledge of their recent history. So, I am pleased that Wafaa' Al-Natheema is campaigning to make people aware of Qassim.
So what were Qassim's successes?
- nationalizing the oil industry
- distributing fairly the farms owned by the few amongst the farmers, and, as a result:
- increasing in middle class percentage and privileges,
- the building of 35,000 resedential units to house the poor and low middle class
- rewriting the constitution for the benefit of all Iraq’s minorities and women
- effectively encouraging and implementing laws with regard to women’s participation in the society
- giving birth to many other improvements, laws and projects pertaining to literacy, education and the arts.
- average number of hours of electricity outside Baghadad are slightly above prewar levels.
- erm... that's it.
It seems to me that the whole aim of Saddam was to erase the memory of 1958. Just try and search for the text of the '58 constitution in English on the web. I tried and failed. I think Iraq needs a workable model for the future and to do this we should go back to Iraq's first successful attempt at self determination and build from there.