Monday, March 31, 2003

Dave Riley asks whether ordinary Iraqis view the war as one of liberation or invasion. It’s a question we’ve been discussing every day.

We haven’t been able to speak to many Iraqis from Saddam’s side of the line for obvious reasons except for a few defectors – and their views were predictably anti-Saddam. The Kurds here in the north though are, almost to a man, supporters of the war. They’ve suffered for years from Saddam’s forced expulsions, chemical attacks and persecution. The day he’s toppled will be a day of celebration in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The most direct answer to the liberation vs invasion question I’ve had came from a 20 year old woman I interviewed in Sulaymaniyah a few days ago.

I asked her what she thought of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve taken to the streets of London and elsewhere to oppose the war. “They don’t live in Iraq,” was her blunt reply. “If I was them I’d probably demonstrate too,” she said, “but they don’t know what Saddam is like. All our problems come from him. War is the only answer.”

This was a woman who, as a child, was forced to flee to Iran with her family because of Saddam’s persecution of the Kurds. For several months she lived in a refugee camp until it was safe to return home. On the day I spoke to her she was preparing to leave the city to stay with relatives in the country because she was afraid Saddam might drop chemical weapons on Sulaymaniyah.

My driver, Dana, says the Kurds’ alliance with the US is born of the philosophy that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. The Kurds have a single-minded, almost naïve, belief that America is their staunchest supporter and has their long-term interests at heart. I hope they’re not disappointed.

Discuss Northern Iraq Weblog


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