Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Iraqi National Team Wins Asia Cup

When news from Iraq reaches us, it's almost always the same: Iraqis killing Iraqis, car bombs, and occasionally, a missed benchmark deadline.

But there are many other narratives in Iraqi society. Iraqis helping family and friends, successes on the ground (that are overlooked in the media), and more recently, Iraqis celebrating their victory together in the 14th Asia Cup finals against Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi national team is a healthy mix of Sunni, Shi'a and Kurdish players. Even they are all too familiar with the pain of Iraq. According to a Reuters report, "Goalkeeper Noor Sari's brother-in-law was killed just before the tournament began, midfielder Nashat Akram's relatives were kidnapped then murdered and Hawar Mulla Mohammad's stepmother died two days before the quarter-final against Vietnam."

The fact that these players were able to play in the face of this overwhelming environment back home is a testament to Iraqis' resilience. There are many stories on the ground that feature such resilience, which you can continue to read about here on the Ground Truth blog. Also, keep an eye out for the Iraqi Peacebuilders Report, which we will co-release with 3D Security in coming weeks.


Anonymous said...

It was amazing seeing happiness in the streets of Iraq for a change. If only we could keep the good feelings going.

Anonymous said...

It was a great game. Thanks for the replay video!

justwondering said...

So are things getting better? Has soccer euphoria swept the population or has everyone gone to the beach?

Gary Sick said...

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2007 4:25 PM

The Iraqi team, known as the "Lions of the Two Rivers" beat three-time champions Saudi Arabia 1-0 in its first appearance in the Asian Cup final.

How nice to have even a bit of good news for the poor, beleaguered Iraqi people for a change. Understandably they ignored curfews and warnings and flooded into the streets to celebrate. Hopefully not too many people will get killed. . . .

Congratulations to all Iraqis!

Erik K. Gustafson said...

In the Outlook Section of today's Washington Post, Iraqi blogger Dr. Mohammed offers a stirring eyewitness account of Baghdad's celebration of Iraq's Asia Cup victory.

* * *

"Sunday is a beautiful day. My wife and I make popcorn, sip cola and watch the Iraqi national soccer team beat Saudi Arabia 1 to 0 in the final for the Asian Cup. My neighborhood erupts in celebratory gunfire. Why don't the shooters think about where their bullets might go when they hit the ground? Two people are killed and six are wounded from falling rounds.

After the shooting stops, I head out to buy cigarettes. I am amazed by what I see. There's unity at last. People are celebrating where on other days confrontations erupt, blood flows and people die. An Iraqi National Guard convoys rolls through, with soldiers dancing on top of the Humvees. I laugh out loud and feel safe for the first time since returning to Iraq.

I hurry home to get my wife and the digital camera. We head out to watch the crowd and snap pictures. Then my wife gets an uneasy look on her face. All these people, she says, might attract a suicide bomber. We go home.

On the news that night: 16 people dead and 66 injured in Zaiona; 10 dead and an unknown number injured in Mansor. They were innocents celebrating the victory of their soccer team. Can't they give us one happy day? Is that too much to ask? May God have mercy on their souls."

* * *

Dr. Mohammed writes the blog Last of Iraqis:

Clicky Web Analytics