Tuesday, March 19, 2013

'Americans Will Come in Suits & Ties'

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day before the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. What follows is taken from the testimony of Palestinian-Iraqi Raed Jarrar found in Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice, edited by Alia Malek, 2011, pp 301-302:

"In February 2003, I was sure that the United States would invade Iraq. I was sure that the Iraqi government would collapse and that the US would occupy the country. I was thinking to myself, All my life I've lived with Palestine under a military occupation. Now my other country, Iraq, will fall under a military occupation as well.

"All of my family was in Iraq at the time; both my parents and both my brothers. I wanted to be with them, so almost 4 weeks before the invasion, I left my job [in Jordan], took a year leave of absence from school, and went back to Baghdad.

"I wanted to be with my parents because I was still traumatized from the 1991 war. So once I arrived in Baghdad I felt so happy to be reunited with my family. We had things that we had to do to be prepared. We paid a contractor to dig a well in our backyard, and then we installed water filters and pipes. We already had an electricity generator, so we just cleaned it up and fixed it. We didn't need to buy so much food because the Iraqi government had given us 6 months' worth of food rations. We bought fuel for the cars and stored it underground, and made a safe room in the house. I taped over all the windows in case they broke.

"I started getting into heated arguments with my dad about the invasion. What started as regular family chats ended up sounding like loud political forums. My father was happy about the invasion; he thought that it would bring the much-needed change, and that it would be better than the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. But I had been developing a very strong opposition to the US invasion in the months leading up to it. I started blogging in late 2002, and having to explain the situation to American and British readers helped me form my political position. I was opposed to the US occupation, and I thought that the crimes that had been committed by the Iraqi government did not justify a foreign invasion. I thought nothing justified a military occupation. That was my ideological line, and I was not ready to change it for my dad's sake. So there was some tension between me and my father before the invasion. He was saying, This government has no support. The Americans will just come and fix everything and leave in a few weeks. I remember he used this expression: Americans will not come to Baghdad wearing bullet armor, they will come wearing their suits and ties. This was his imagination.

"My mother and two brothers were more pragmatic in dealing with the situation. My mother wasn't a big supporter of a US invasion, but she thought it might be better for us. My brothers were against it, but not as strongly as I was.

"Even if the US came and made Iraq heaven on earth, I was still against the US invasion, period. Unfortunately, that wasn't the mainstream opinion in Iraq. I think most people fell in the same category as my mother, where they were not very happy with the government, they were not very happy with the invasion, but they thought, Oh, it might be for our good."

Part 2 tomorrow...

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