Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Iraq’s next generation: “Staying here is like committing suicide.”

The future of any society depends on its young people who will take over important roles as they move into adulthood. This is even more important in respect to those who are educated who will become doctors, lawyers, engineers and so on.

The positive impact these educated young adults can have on the rebuilding of a war-torn country like Iraq cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, Iraq is losing the next generation as they join those fleeing the country. This is the story from today’s New York Times about the class of 2007 from various Iraqi universities:
They started college just before or after the American invasion with dreams of new friends and parties, brilliant teachers and advanced degrees that would lead to stellar jobs, marriage and children. Success seemed well within their grasp.

Four years later, Iraq’s college graduates are ending their studies shattered and eager to leave the country. In interviews with more than 30 students from seven universities, all but four said they hoped to flee immediately after receiving their degrees. Many said they did not expect Iraq to stabilize for at least a decade.

“I used to dream about getting a Ph.D., participating in international conferences, belonging to a team that discovered cures for diseases like AIDS, leaving my fingerprint on medicine,” said Hasan Tariq Khaldoon, 24, a pharmacy student in Mosul, in the north. “Now all these dreams have evaporated.”

Karar Alaa, 25, a medical student at Babil University, south of Baghdad, said, “Staying here is like committing suicide.”

The class of 2007 came of age during a transformation that according to students has harvested tragedy from seeds of hope. They are the last remnants of a middle class that has already fled by the tens of thousands. As such they embody the country’s progression from innocence to bitter wisdom amid dashed expectations and growing animosity toward the Americans.

They said would leave their country feeling betrayed, by the debilitating violence that has killed scores of professors and friends, by the growing influence of Islamic fundamentalism and by the Americans, who they say cracked open their country, releasing spasms of violence without protecting the moderate institutions that could have been a bulwark against extremism.

“I want to tell them thanks for liberating us, but enough with the mistakes,” said Abdul Hassein Ibrahim Zain Alabidin, a Shiite Turkmen studying law at Kirkuk University, in the north. The errors, he said, “led to division and terrorism.”
You can read the entire article here. This is a story worth remembering as we attend graduation ceremonies here in the states. Not every young person's future looks bright.

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