Remember the statue of Saddam being pulled down? The Guardian has tracked down the people who were there and interviewed them. The men with the rope noose were Ali Fares and Khaled Hamid.
Hamid says: “We weren’t able to catch Saddam himself, so the statue had to stand in. I was happy. I was proud. I know that even President Bush was watching us.” But the pride was tinged with revulsion. “To be honest, I was upset about the Americans coming. Nobody accepted the occupation. But we were ready to be allied with the Jews, with Satan, just to get rid of Saddam.”
“The Americans should leave our country, but I’m 100% sure they’re not going to. They came all this way. They experienced all that sacrifice, lost hundreds of men and spent so much money. Do you think they will leave this country so easily? No. There will be American bases outside our cities.”
Both were military deserters.
“We’re depressed and we’re frustrated,” says Fares. “We thought the coalition forces came here for reconstruction, for the prosperity of the people. It hasn’t happened. I was glad to get rid of Saddam, but that doesn’t mean I like the Americans. I don’t regret pulling down his statue, because if I hadn’t done it somebody else would have, but if the situation had remained as it was under Saddam I personally would have been better off now.”
But I digress, because the beautiful part is this:
Later, Khaled takes me across the road to visit a friend, Hussein Abdul Bari Obeid, whose house was broken into by US troops on a raid on Eid, the last day of Ramadan. […] Three American soldiers entered the yard, told Obeid and his friends to put their hands up while they searched for weapons, took hold of Obeid’s chin, moved his head from side to side, and ordered him to take his shirt off and stand facing the wall. He refused. He was handcuffed and taken into the street. Against a background of screaming, weeping and protesting by the family, male and female, the Americans broke into the house and searched it, finding two Kalashnikovs, which they confiscated, although Obeid insisted he needed at least one for his job as watchman at a car park.
“After that, the American officer untied me. I didn’t say anything. They wrote some words on my forearm, three lines: the day, the date, the kind of weapon, the serial number. Then the officer said: ‘Happy Eid!’ And he left.”
Later, another US unit came through with a kind of “How’s my driving?” mopping-up operation, asking locals whether the first unit had treated them courteously. They handed out leaflets with an Arabic translation of a speech by George Bush talking about the spirit of peace and love in Ramadan.
“Well, they gave me this paper, but they hadn’t respected their own president,” says Obeid. “They went into my house with their shoes on and they pointed a gun at my mother. That wasn’t done under Saddam. We were repressed, and now we’re going to be repressed again.”
Gunpoint interrogation satisfaction surveys. It’s like something out of “Brazil”.