Iraq foreign ministry reopens as symbol of defying terrorists
Iraq reopened a rebuilt foreign ministry building in Baghdad Wednesday, just nine months after a major truck bombing. 'The best answer to the terrorists ... is to rise from the ashes again,' said Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
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The original building was built by a Japanese firm in the 1980s and the blueprints were not available. So, Iraqi engineers took apart one of the interlocking arches in the building and reverse engineered it to build new arches to look like the original.Skip to next paragraph
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“There is a sense that things cannot be done in Iraq because of the bureaucracy because of the corruption, because of the inefficiency - that we can’t do it on our own unless there is foreign aid to help and assist,” said Zebari as he showed two reporters several rooms where walls and ceilings had collapsed that now have the look of an upscale hotel lobby. “We wanted to prove we can do it, we can rely on ourselves.”
Zebari, who had originally blamed the government for failing to secure the ministry, says those dangers have not been eliminated. Attacks on the German and Egyptian embassies in March were among the latest in a series of bombings since last year.
“We have some flaws in the intelligence system, in the coordination between different agencies, and they are trying to learn from their lessons but the events after all this proved that these flaws are still there,” he says.
Almost 10 percent of the foreign ministry staff was killed or wounded in the August attack, carried out by a truck bomb that passed through several checkpoints and was on city streets in contravention of a ban on trucks. For the survivors, the ceremony and its message of resiliency was particularly meaningful.
Lina Omar, director of protocol, had only been back at the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad for a month (after five years at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington) when the suicide bomber struck. “The building fell on top of us,” she says. She spent 1-1/2 months in a hospital in Irbil, Iraq, recovering from her injuries .
“We went through a lot – through so many wars,” she says. “If we continue this progress and the dream that we have, Iraqis will never give up.”
“In nine months. we managed to renovate our ministry and this is the best reply to those who want the evil destruction of our country,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi. “It is an example of when people get together they can make miracles.”
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