16 years ago, the Americans invaded Iraq, overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein, but they could not turn the country into an island of security in the Middle East. Life in ancient Baghdad goes on as usual, and gradually returns to its former course. Another evidence of this was the opening of the “green zone” – a well-protected government quarter, previously inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis. But not because the Iraqi capital has become a safe city. We asked an employee of one of the leading international private military companies to tell what the elimination of the “green zone” means, what the country is now living in, and whether the American presence is felt there.
One fine evening in Baghdad, I was heading to my room after a hearty lunch. The sun had already gone down long ago, rare lanterns shone on the street, birds sang, cats meowed in the courtyard, and in the neighboring courtyards the locals shouted something unintelligible. In general, the usual evening in the “green zone” of Baghdad.
Suddenly there was an explosion in the distance. Not even an explosion, but rather an unconvincing kind of “broads”, and behind it another one more. There were two options – either run and unlock the container with the weapon, grab machine guns, shops and prepare for a decisive battle with the forces of evil, or go quietly to yourself and eat the banana, which I grabbed in the dining room after dinner. The explosions did not stop, but they sounded less and less convincing: moreover, after some “women” there was a multi-voiced “fng-shch”, similar to the sizzle of soda.
I was visited by absolutely mad thought. Is that fireworks? In Baghdad? I mentally went through all the famous Sunni and Shiite holidays, tried to remember the schedule of football matches – maybe the Iraqi team won something, but then my South African colleague appeared from around the corner.
“I know, buddy, that sounds silly, but don’t you think that these are fireworks?” “You’re right, fireworks, I tensed up too at first.” “And what are they celebrating?” “But the demon will understand them, these Iraqis.
I said good night to him and went to my room to eat a banana. The decisive battle with the forces of evil was postponed for an indefinite period. All night long outside the window exploded firecrackers, while I, going to bed, thought about why the civilians of Iraq, who lived 15 years in the combat zone, do not complain of post-traumatic syndrome and are not at all afraid of fireworks.
After all, everyone knows that any self-respecting war veteran must be gloomy and irritable, afraid of sudden explosions of firecrackers, crackers, crackers and, hearing the sound of a fan, remember the attacks of military helicopters and the smell of napalm in the morning.
In the morning the mystery of the sudden feast was revealed. It turns out that Iraq was celebrating the anniversary of the victory over the Islamic State, and the American embassy even issued a warning that a salute was expected in the evening.
Hearing the news, everyone shrugged and wanted to go about their business, but the second message caught them off guard. In honor of the holiday, the government of Iraq opened to ordinary citizens access to the strictly guarded and well-protected “green zone” of Baghdad, where the American Embassy, the main square and all major government agencies are located.
The “green zone” has been tried to rename to “international” many times, but the old name is still in use. And most importantly, no matter how much you change it, the meaning will not change – the “green” zone has been successfully separating the Iraqi government from its own people all these years, at the same time creating a security buffer around the giant American embassy.
The Iraqi government has promised to open it many times, but we all know: to promise is not to do, especially when it comes to government. The opening of the “green zone” turned everything upside down. Inside, it was always possible to go alone, in shorts and flip-flops, many did not even take weapons, which I do not approve of.
But if you travel to the “red zone” (there is no “yellow” zone, by the way), be so kind – remember who you are and where you are. The order is simple: a bulletproof vest on himself and the client, automatic, ammunition and at least two armored vehicles in a convoy, so that if something happens, you can throw a client into a second car.
What now? Take the whole city for the “red zone” and drive through two blocks to a restaurant where you used to go on foot, in two cars and in bulletproof vests? Or imagine that the “green zone” has not disappeared, and nothing has changed, desperately ignoring reality?
Questions remained, but the main conclusion is disappointing for all employees of PMCs in the country. The Iraqi government wanted to spit on the Americans and allies, their opinions and wishes. After 2015, the “green zone” was kept only on them. They and their dog handlers stood as the last cordon at each checkpoint, and the stern shtatovski specialist with the tortured dog at the entrance to the “green zone” was a constant attribute of Baghdad – the same as the rubbish on the roadsides.
Changes noticed everything at once. The abolition of restrictions immediately provoked a traffic collapse. Previously, the passage of three roadblocks took about five minutes, now you can easily stand for an hour at the entrance. The picture is completely apocalyptic: there are thousands of cars with open hoods, luggage racks and doors in front of the first checkpoint, and Iraqi cynologists lazily stroll through this multi-kilometer column, depicting vigorous activity.
But the elimination of the “green zone” in Baghdad is perhaps not the greatest defeat of American diplomacy in Iraq. The largest defeat in general, few people noticed outside our industry. In late September, I sat at home and flipped through the Facebook feed. Suddenly, among the photos of weapons and gifs with cats, there was one message that interested me.
In one of the many closed groups where American colleagues love to ponya about how everything is bad now and how everything was fine before, one of the participants wrote a curious post: “Dear colleagues. I am currently working on a WPS contract in Basra. Urgently looking for a job. Who even now is hiring, tell me. ” In one of the previous materials I have already told what WPS is, this is the program of the US Department of State for the protection of US diplomatic missions in unstable regions.
Very prestigious, well-paid, stable work, where the way is closed to non-Americans. 400-500 dollars a day there is a normal salary of an ordinary employee. They prefer to hire former special forces, but also with infantry with experience in the PMCs are not averse.
And then suddenly a person who got into the WPS program is looking for work. Of course, they immediately began teasing him: “What are you, raped the ambassador’s wife?”, “What have you done, poor?”, “We make bets – either drunkenness at work, or drugs, or accidentally shot out” and “If you were fired with WPS , don’t be sad, you can always get a security guard to the mall. ” Fortunately, the author of the original post turned out to be restrained and quickly answered the commentators. “Gentlemen, the American consulate in Basra is closed. It is unclear whether they will transfer somewhere or simply send everyone home. Let’s not joke. “
Here the commentators are a little depressed. Who was stupid – continued to mock: “Come on, do not lie, write what you have done,” who smarter – rushed to check the information on the Internet. And in the evening an official press release came out: the US government closed the consulate in Basra due to the fact that it could not ensure its safety. The last time this was in 2012, after the famous attack on the consulate in Libya, in Benghazi, when the American ambassador was killed.
Such is the “American occupation”, when the “invaders” cannot even protect their diplomats. And while Basra – not Mosul, large-scale hostilities are not conducted there. Happens, runs around, burns rags and beats windows in honor of regular protests, but on the whole the situation is not the worst. Even such an innocent thing as Trump’s visit to Iraq for Christmas (he then visited the American military base) caused the Iraqi government a heavy attack of national identity.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi broke out in an entire tirade on this topic: “Firstly, Trump had to land on Iraqi soil and be accepted as any foreign official. Secondly, there should have been a plan and a short meeting with the Iraqi leadership. ” Instead, Trump just called the Iraqi Prime Minister by phone, posed for soldier’s selfies, and flew home.
But the Iraqi Prime Minister didn’t stop at that and said, probably the most interesting passage: “You say that Trump flew to the American military base. There are no US military bases in Iraq! There are Iraqi military bases where some American and non-US soldiers are located. ”
So it turns out. A total of 15 years of occupation: consulates have to be closed, there are no military bases, the “green zone” has fallen, Iraqis, Russians, Chinese and British are pumping oil, and American companies have to compete on equal terms with the rest.
It looks as if the American policy in Iraq has suffered a complete collapse on all fronts. Perhaps, of course, they simply completed all the tasks before them and curtailed their presence in the region, but it is hard to believe in it.
This is what I am for. When I read that the US is preparing a war with Russia, that NATO forces will soon cross the Estonian border, and the bony hand of the West will reach Siberia to take away precious oil and gas, I cannot help but smile. Iraq, despite 15 years of efforts and trillions of dollars, the Americans failed to occupy, and here-the whole Russia! So, maybe, instead of preparing for a war with America, it is worth considering why the average wages in Iraq and in Russia are about equal, although it seems that Russia has not been occupied yet.