The Middle East has been the center of attention for more than nine years now. The Middle East has always been a place constant turmoil, starting from the War in Afghanistan, to the Arab Spring and now the continuous growth of ISIS (Islamic State if Iraq and Syria). With all of the past events and current conflicts going on, people might forget about a country like Iraq’s current internal affairs, whether they be good or bad. People forget about the environmental issues that Iraq is going through, their women and minority population and their rights, and other economic and political affairs. These factors can play a role in the progress of a nation.
Iraq is a country surrounded by desert, consisting of pollution-filled oil reserves, and poor infrastructure. The living conditions of Iraqi people are so poor that outbreaks of viruses occur and reoccur often. Iraq’s poor infrastructure has been severely affected since the US inva
sion in 2003, efforts were made to reconstruct said infrastructure but nothing has really improved since then. From sewage waste spillage to soil erosion, water contamination is the biggest problem facing Iraq, which results in an outbreak of Cholera that has spread through the country, making this the third outbreak since 2007. The virus Vibrio cholera (Cholera) infects the intestines and is transmitted from person to person, through food and water. If no treatment is given soon, a person will die from dehydration and/or kidney failure within either one day or a few hours.
The city of Mosul, which is the 2nd largest city in Iraq, has a dam that is at risk of collapsing. The Mosul Dam is located on the Tigris River and is the largest dam in Iraq; fourth in the Middle East. The dam is made up of earth and is situated on soft mineral foundations that are easily dissolved by water. A dam that once operated at full capacity, bringing electricity and water to many citizens now only operates at partial capacity. According to CBSNews.com, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland said, warning that “when it goes, it’s going to go fast, and that’s bad.” The collapse of this dam could put the city of Mosul under 65ft. of water, which could kill an estimated half a million people. Iraq has multiple problems facing their environment and infrastructure, in turn affecting its population.
Environment and infrastructure are not the only problems facing Iraq and its inhabitants today, being a woman and /or part of the minority group, Yazidi, are unfortunate in Iraq. In TIME.com’s article, ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Yazidis’, the Yazidis are one of the longest surviving ancient religions or sects in the world that was established in the 11th century by a sheik in the Umayyad dynasty. 600,000 of the 700,000 existing Yazidi live in northern Iraq. There is no known knowledge of the Yazidi because “they are a secretive community who pass on oral traditions—much of which is unknown to outsiders,” said Hayder al-Khoei. The Yazidi peoples have been shunned for quite a number years because they are seen as Satanists, when that is not the case at all. Yazidis are dualists, they believe “that good and evil, God and Satan are part of the same divine creation.” Currently 3,500 women and children primarily from the Yazidi community are being held as sex slaves in Iraq by ISIS militants. According to CNN, Yazidi women were forced into ‘sex markets’ and pregnant women were forced to have abortions.
Mass graves of women and children have been discovered as well. ISIS has been targeting Iraqi women, said Education News article, “ISIS fighters do not care if those candidates are Sunni or Christians or Shiites,” a source told NBC News. “Since this person was trying to be part of the government, he or she is a target. They do not care if this person is a female, all are considered as targets. They have no respect for mankind at all.” ISIS believes that women should not be in positions of power and should support, not lead society. Other minority groups and civilians who are seen displaying acts of disloyalty are also being murdered by remorseless ISIS members in Iraq.
Though ISIS has been connected to these topics in any way possible, knowledge about internal issues facing Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries can play a bigger role in understanding why progress is at a standstill. Outside of war and terror groups, if factors like environmental issues, nonfunctional/poor infrastructure, and civilian safety and health are not taken into account how can a country progress?