OF EXILES IN POST-SADDAM IRAQ
Activities and Critical Analysis
By Doug DuBrin, an English/History teacher and editor/ writer.
The U.S. has sought support of Iraqi exiles living in
the U.S. and elsewhere in its efforts to combat those loyal to Saddam
Hussein's government and to rebuild the war-ravaged nation. To help with
these efforts, the American military has formed the Free Iraqi Forces
and the Free Iraqi Fighting Forces to work with coalition troops within
Iraq. (See NewsHour Extra article below).
Iraqi Forces work with so-called Civil Affairs units, and focus on helping
to restore damaged infrastructure such as water and power supplies and
providing an invaluable communication and cultural link to the civilian
Iraqi Fighting Forces were originally created in 1998 by the U.S. government
and recently recruited many of its members from the large Iraqi population
in Detroit, Michigan.
groups received military training in Hungary in order to participate in
the current effort to rebuild the war-torn country.
the exiles returning to Iraq may not be uniformly well received. After
the recent ouster of Afghanistan's Taliban government with U.S. assistance,
many exiles chose to return to participate in the newly formed democracy.
Some Afghanis have viewed their return skeptically, though, since many
of the exiled population have reemerged in powerful and lucrative positions.
(See The Christian Science Monitor excerpt below.) Some appear feel that
these exiles left during difficult times and are returning now to reap
the benefits after the hardships have abated.
there is a great deal of enthusiasm on the part of the exile community
to return to their homeland to lend assistance. Whether that enthusiasm
will alleviate any resentment held by those who endured Hussein's regime
remains to be seen.
20 - 30 minutes
to National Standards
by providing for the students two relevant definitions:
· exile: a person living away from his/her native country
or community for a prolonged period of time, usually as a result of
being banished or forced out, but sometimes self-imposed
· refugee: a person who flees from his/her country or
community to seek safety or security elsewhere, especially during wartime
or during political or religious persecution
show students the NewsHour
transcript with Iraqi-Americans, or provide transcript of it to
read as a class. ( Click
here for streaming video )
have the students carefully read the Online
NewsHour article on the exiles in Iraq, either independently or
have the students work in pairs or small groups to address the following
question: What could be some of the obstacles that exiles may
encounter when working with the Iraqi civilian population? Consider
in your answer:
· How might exiles be received after its members have lived
in the U.S. for such a long period of time?
· What might the Iraqis feel about the exiles who were not present
during the recent coalition invasion in relation to those who fought
alongside the coalition?
· If the Iraqi exiles wish to permanently return to their native
land, how should they be treated by the people? Should they immediately
be restored to their previous roles in society? Should they be considered
the responses as a class in relation to the excerpt on Afghan exiles
from The Christian Science Monitor. Encourage students to voice any
parallels they see between the obstacles in the return of exiles to
Afghanistan and the possible challenges faced by the FIF in Iraq's rebuilding.
" After years in the West, hundreds of exiles are returning to
Afghanistan and embracing a home country that some have known only through
their parents. But while Afghans here have welcomed many of the returnees,
tension is building in the workplace between the locals and the homecoming
exiles," Fariba Nawa wrote in The Christian Science Monitor. "Diaspora
Afghans return with their degrees and multilingual skills, taking high-powered,
high-paid jobs that locals say should go to Afghans who didn't flee
when the going got tough. Exiles reply that they are more qualified
for the jobs, and that they have given up Western luxuries to serve
(for a link to the complete article)
students have gained a solid foundation on the current role of exiles
in Iraq's restructuring, assign any of the following for either extended
in-class activities or for at-home assignments:
out someone in your local community who has either been exiled from
his/her native country or is living as a political refugee. (Most cities
have organizations dedicated to refugee assistance, such as the Red
Cross or International Friends.) Arrange for an interview with that
person in order to attempt to understand the living conditions under
which he/she was living and their impact on him/her. Share with the
class the interview as well as the insights you developed as a result.
various refugee and exile communities currently residing the U.S. (You
may wish to start with large exile populations from countries such as
Bosnia, Kosovo, Cuba and China.) Then address the following:
· What parallels do you see among the groups in how they view
their native lands?
· What political and/or economic realities usually caused the
exile of many in that community?
· What differences are there among the specific groups? Consider
language, culture, education and economics.
· Why do so many refugees come to the United States?
· How have various groups adjusted, both in general and specific
terms, to living in the U.S.? What have been the chief obstacles?
the history of political exiles or refugees living in the U.S. Questions
to guide your research may include:
· During what historical periods did the greatest number of
exiles or refugees come to the U.S.? What can you conclude based on
· Have certain nations been given priority over others as far
as exiles or refugees are concerned? In other words, has the government
encouraged some people to come to the U.S. and discouraged or prevented
others? If this is so, why might this be?
· What has been the official policy for political exiles or refugees
wanting to flee to the U.S. during or after the following events:
a. World war II (including the Holocaust)
b. The Soviet Union under communist rule
c. Castro's Cuba
d. The Vietnam War
Council of the Social Studies
For detailed explanations, please consult
5: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Standard 6: Power, Authority, and Governance
Standard 9: Global Connections
Standard 10: Civic Ideals and Practices
Standard 1: History
Standard 3: Civics and Government
Doug DuBrin taught Social Studies and Literature at the Arizona School
for the Arts for 4 years. Before that he taught at the Near North Montessori
School and the Monroe Middle School in Rochester, NY. He has a BA from
the University of Rochester and a MA from the University of Illinois at
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