WSW: "None of This Happened Overnight" in Iraq

Jul 2, 2014

Mourners carry the coffin of a victim of violence before his burial in Najaf
Credit The Associated Press


Kalamazoo native Ben Lando has witnessed violence in Iraq up close. He says the latest wave of attacks marks an "evolution." 

Lando is the founder and Editor in Chief of the Iraq Oil Report. He recently returned to Kalamazoo, and discussed what he has seen as violence erupted in the country. 

Violence seemed to break out all over again in recent weeks. Lando says it has taken terrorism in the nation to a whole new level. But he says terrorism has never really gone away in Iraq. Lando says there has been much focus on the group known as ISIS. But he says the violence can be traced to many different factions. 

"Everyone is too blame, and there is no easy way, if a way out of this at all."

Lando says "day to day life has stalled in many places." He says people are not out in public as much has they had been before. Lando says in addition to the violence in Iraq, there is also access to services. As far as the debate over what could have been done, or what should be done next. Lando says "everyone is too blame, and there is no easy way, if a way out of this at all." 

Asked about how people in Iraq react to year after year of war, sanctions, bombings and terrorist attacks, Lando says the Iraqis show resilience in the face of great adversity. But he says there is also an Iraqi characteristic of accepting inevitability. 

Ben Lando outside the Baghdad Zoo
Credit Courtesy of Ben Lando

Lando says reporting in Iraq safely is "definitely tough." He says they are constantly making decisions about how they can cover what is happening in Iraq while keeping reporters safe. Lando says his organization has worked hard to cultivate sources they can rely on to keep reporters from dangerous situations. But Lando says he wonders how well anyone can cover the story in Iraq. 

Lando says the increased violence has "spooked the markets." He says there are concerns about shutting down exports. But Lando says so far there hasn't been a direct impact since most of the oil is exported from the southern part of Iraq. He says there are some oil refineries and oil fields that are currently not able to operate because of security concerns. 

There are few good options, according to Lando. He says there is a danger of more sectarianism in Iraq. Lando says there are also various extremist and violent groups that could move in. He says the U.S. has little sway in Iraq any more.