Archive for Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Iraqis voice anger as war enters fourth year

March 21, 2006


— Some Baghdad residents voiced anger and dismay when asked about their lives as the U.S.-led war in Iraq entered its fourth year Monday, a day on which insurgents and sectarian gangs killed at least 39 more people.

Salah Hashim, a 49-year-old businessman, said he yearned for the return of Saddam Hussein, the country's ousted dictator, given the violence that now envelops the country.

"Despite all he did that was bad, we did not suffer as we are now," Hashim said. "Now we have lost everything, even a sense of living. The Americans promised us, especially (President) George Bush, prosperity. And we thank them all because we got it - but we got a prosperity of car bombs, kidnappings and killings."

At least 992 people have been killed in a surge of sectarian killings since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra, according to an Associated Press count.

"Now I have to spend time worrying about my safety while walking in the streets," said Hashim. "I have to worry about my children when they leave home for school. Instead of being comfortable and enjoying time with my family, I worry that I can't ensure their good life."

Ahmen Najeeb, a 33-year-old supermarket owner, said he originally "waved his hands" at American forces as they entered the country in March 2003, but that his outlook has since changed.

"Day after day the Americans proved that they are here to steal our oil and protect their homes by keeping their war against terror in another country," he said.

One English teacher, though, said that Iraqis had tolerated Saddam's tyranny for so long that it was worth fighting through the violence to rebuild the country.

"What we are now living in is not an American failure nor that of the Iraqi government," said Assmaa Ali, 38. "The problem is in the Iraqi people ... we started fighting each other using statements and words. Now we are fighting each other with guns.

Ali said the only ones to blame were the insurgents and sectarian fighters who cause the problems. "They are the main reason behind the loss of life and destruction. We should help both the government and coalition forces in fighting these troublemakers instead of blaming them."

One man who said three of his daughters were killed by a bombing last year sounded despondent.

"I got nothing from this so-called liberation, just this cell phone and my satellite receiver. But I lost my three daughters," said Nawar Maarof, a 34-year-old taxi driver who said he had dreamed of becoming an accountant. "I have a feeling that my destiny is the same. Anyway, we're all dead."

Salam Nassir, a 25-year-old college student, also longed for Saddam.

"We deserve all this because we didn't fight the Americans," he said. "We had to know from the start they would not help us and were lying about liberating Iraq."


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