Conflicts & War

The US invasion of Iraq: No forgetting or forgiving

By Carles Grau Sivera

Baghdad, Mar 20 (EFE).- Hafsa, a 45-year-old Iraqi woman, breaks into tears when she recalls the American invasion of her country 20 years ago.

“We hope the invasion would bring change, that we would go from bad to good,” Hafsa, who preferred not to give her full name, tells Efe.

“But it didn’t happen. They destroyed everything. They destroyed our lives,” Hafsa, whose brother was killed in the invasion, adds.

The legacy of the US invasion in 2003 is hundreds of thousands of dead and a country that still needs to be rebuilt, she tells Efe from Mutanabbi Street, which is full of open-air bookstores on the banks of the Tigris in central Baghdad.

“The invasion is still in the minds of all Iraqis,” Hafsa says.

Despite the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, many Iraqis who spoke to Efe told of a “silent majority” who look back fondly on the pre-invasion period.

“Iraq was much better with Saddam, it was a stable country,” Ahmed, 67, says. Like millions of his age, he formed part of Saddam’s army, but at least he earned a “dignified wage,” he adds.

With the invasion of Iraq came the mass dismantling of the Iraqi army and much of the country’s public administrations. Millions were left unemployed overnight. Ahmed was one of them.

Ahmed acknowledges there was no freedom of expression under Saddam, but adds that the spiral of violence thrust upon Iraq following the invasion, coupled with worsening poverty and the total collapse of a state, turned the country into “dust.”

“The North Americans destroyed my life and I can never forgive them for what they did to me and other Iraqis.” he says.

In official Iraqi media, the difference between the overthrow of Saddam and the US invasion becomes blurred.

A number of TV outlets and newspapers call the events of March 20, 2003, a “liberation” or a “change.”

But public opinion is clearer.

“Overthrowing Saddam was a positive thing the Americans did, but the invasion didn’t bring anything good,” says Saleh, a fruit seller in Sadr City, a stronghold of the powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, who led insurgents against the US invasion.

This section of the city was the scene of street battles between US troops and Shia militias loyal to al Sadr in the wake of the invasion.

Saleh lost several of his cousins in the fighting, which he witnessed as a 12-year-old.

“I can never forgive the coalition forces for what they have done in Iraq. For anyone who has lost a loved one, forgiveness is not an option.”EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button