Carole Hills: The leader of the Sunni militant group, ISIS, has a new invitation for Muslims around the globe: Come to Iraq and Syria to help build a new Islamic state there. Isis wants to create a â€œCaliphateâ€ on territory that it has seized in the region. Financial Times reporter, Borzou Daragahi, has been talking to Iraqis in Baghdad. I asked him how people there are reacting to the latest word from ISIS.
Borzou Daragahi: Well, a lot of people don’t really take this seriously. The mainstream Iraqis in the cosmopolitan, relatively cosmopolitan Baghdad, where I am now, they don’t see this as a threat to them in particular. It’s a little bit of a clown act to some of the people that I’ve spoken to. You know, a little bit of aâ€”If you think about it, this guy is kind of pulling a Jim Jones there.
Hills: You’re referring to Jim Jones in Guyana.
Daragahi: Exactly. Yes. I mean, there’s a little touch of Jim Jones in what he’s doing â€“ Essentially declaring himself the Messiah, and the leader of all Muslims. I don’t think that anyone outside of a certain type of Jihadi circle would heed this call or respect it, and see it as anything other than the ravings of a nut job.
Hills: Now, another scene today, the Iraqi Parliament, they’re under a lot of pressure to make some progress. They weren’t able to elect a speaker. What happened there today?
Daragahi: They were not able to do anything. They were not able to issue a statement that would assure the nation or anything like that. They met, they formally swore in the members who were there. This was the first session after the election on April 30th. And then they had an argument over Kurdish funds, the apportionment of Kurdish funds to the Kurdish regional government. They broke for a recess and then essentially, they couldn’t muster up a quorum again and they went home until next week. Now, if anyone knows about what’s going on in this country right now, I mean, this just shows a complete failure in leadership.
Hills: Now, Borzou, you’re in Baghdad, you’ve covered it a lot over the past 10 or 12 years, and now you’ve gone back to cover this story. What’s it like being back there?
Daragahi: Well, it’s really hot. I mean, seriously hot. It’s 122 degrees, and the heat kind of comes at you from below, as well as from above. It just sort of bounces off of the asphalt and brushes up against your face. You can feel the heat in a way that is just overwhelming. But in many ways, the country has changed for the better, believe it or not. Iraqis have more money in their pockets, the streets look nicer, trash is being picked up. All those buildings that the US destroyed during the 2003 invasion, they’ve either been repaired or are being patched up. So the signs of that, the traumatic signs of that war are gone. But yet, the people are in a really bad situation. There’s a real fear that the country is facing its gravest, most existential crisis in many decades. People are seriously talking about further partitioning the country, creating a Sunni state or state-lette that would be separate from the rest of Iraq, and that is very traumatic for a country where, for many years, people had this sort of cosmopolitan image of themselves â€“ There is no Sunni, there is no Shia, there is no Kurd, there is no Christian, there are only us Iraqis and we are unified. And that image of the country has suffered a serious blow.
Hills: Borzou Daragahi, reporter in Baghdad. Borzou, appreciate you speaking with us today.
Daragahi: It’s always a pleasure.