Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Iraqi Women say "Thanks"

This article appeared in the Detroit news today. It confirms what me and others have been saying for a long time. Toppling the monster Saddam was a good and noble thing by itself. The blood we spill and the money we spend are well worth it.

Iraqi women tour U.S. with this quiet, stunning message: Thanks

"They are two Iraqi women on a tour of the American Midwest, conveying a simple but somehow stunning message. To wit: Thanks for liberating Iraq. Thanks for sending American troops. You Americans are a lovely people.

Taghreed Al-Qaragholi, 30, and Surood Ahmad Falih, 33, are college-educated, professional women who have flourished in post-occupation Iraq. They are believers in democracy, believers in the current transformation of their country. As women, they feel particularly affected.

Both insist that their lives, and those of most Iraqis, have improved since Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad. Falih, who watched family members being bombed in their own car under Saddam’s regime, has no doubts that the situation has improved.

For 10 years, as a United Nations employee, she’s worked with a small Kurdish village in Iraq whose male population was completely eliminated during the Saddam regime. “There are no men. Zero,” she says. “It was very bad there. There was no safe place.”

She carries a folded e-mail print-out from a South Carolina soldier’s mother — a woman who invited her to stay with her family — and tears flood her eyes when she speaks of other kindnesses she’s experienced in the United States.

Both women are here under the auspices of the Iraq-America Freedom Alliance, a coalition of Chaldean, Kurdish and Muslim groups, among others. And that group is, in turn, funded by a U.S. foundation whose board members include Steve Forbes, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Al Gore’s former aide, Donna Brazile — a foundation committed to what its spokesman, Bill McCarthy, calls “an aggressive war on terrorism.”

These two women are here to say good things about the U.S. presence in Iraq, and to encourage an American response to terrorism, and during their visit Wednesday to the Detroit area, they did so with conviction and charm.

They describe themselves as women fighting for the rights of women in Iraq — rights they say have now been won, if not fully secured. Under the country’s new constitution — the document that Al-Qaragholi laboriously typed and re-typed while its words were being debated and repeatedly changed — women are guaranteed representation in the parliament.

“Before women had no political rights. Now we have four government ministers who are women, six deputy ministers. It is very different than under Saddam Hussein,” says Al-Qaragholi, who is an administrator with one of Iraq’s political parties. She also says that women make up 60 percent of the population, a gender distortion produced by years of war and political executions.

She sees her two younger sisters, ages 18 and 17, as newly hopeful about their lives and futures.

“Before, we educated ourselves to be able to leave. We were like machines, and we kept our emotions inside,” said Falih.

Both women insisted that most Iraqis support the American troops. “We want to say thank you to the mothers and fathers of American soldiers,” says Falih.

They are here, uttering words Americans do not often hear. And no matter how you might feel about the American military presence in Iraq, their clear sense of hope is at once surprising and affecting."

Laura Berman’s column runs Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in Metro. Reach her at (248) 647-7221 or e-mail lberman@detnews.com.

Source Link: www.detnews.com/b01-233339.htm

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