As Russia invades Ukraine, Iraqis remember painful war memories | Russia-Ukraine crisis News


Baghdad, Iraq – The air assaults and gunfire on Ukrainian soil following the Russian invasion are stirring up recollections barely sealed in Iraq almost 19 years after the US-led invasion.

The assault ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine is all too acquainted for a Center East nation that was the centre of a geopolitical battle for many years.

Many Iraqis, from the capital Baghdad to provinces corresponding to Anbar the place the combating was among the most intense throughout the US invasion, are watching attentively as Russian troops are closing in on Ukrainian capital Kyiv – and the Ukrainian armed forces, together with armed civilians, are vehemently defending.

The horrific scenes unfolding in Ukraine have additionally performed out in Iraq. To witness assaults in one other a part of the world for Iraqis is a painful reminder for a lot of right here who’ve misplaced their hopes and goals of an finish to conflict.

“Some world leaders appear to have an insatiable greed for invading different international locations,” stated Samer al-Idreesi, a 47-year-old from the capital Baghdad.

Having lived by means of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and america’ response assault of Iraq in 2003, al-Idreesi informed Al Jazeera he believed all warmongers ought to be punished.

Then American President George W Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, alleging then chief Saddam Hussein was constructing “weapons of mass destruction” whereas harbouring operatives from al-Qaeda, the armed group held answerable for the September 11, 2001 assaults on america.

“Saddam, Bush, and Putin – they’re all canines,” al-Idreesi stated. “And if Putin may be taught something from Iraq, that’s this would be the starting of his finish.”

‘The place we may go’

Regardless of some basic variations between the conflict in Iraq and the one in Ukraine, one factor nearly at all times stays true: unusual folks bear the brunt of battle.

As civilians in Ukraine bunkered down in anticipation of Russian air assaults and others fled west within the hope of leaving the nation, many individuals Al Jazeera spoke to stated they might sympathize with the displaced and had been reminded of an analogous ordeal.

“I keep in mind that my mother and father requested me to pack all of the issues I wanted as a result of the People had been coming,” stated Mona Saade, 31, from Baghdad, as she recalled the times main as much as the US-led invasion when she was 12 years previous.

“However then, we shortly realized that we didn’t know the place we may go – there may very well be combating actually all over the place on this nation.”

As Saade was talking on the telephone with Al Jazeera, she stated a information alert appeared on the TV display: city warfare intensified in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis Kharkiv. She paused for just a few seconds and resumed the dialog.

“It’s uncanny how historical past can repeat itself – it’s like I’m once more in 2003, watching information that informed us city warfare was intensifying in Baghdad or in Basra,” Saade stated.

In contrast to Saade and others who’re following the information in Ukraine carefully, others are selecting to look away from the vicious information cycle. For them, to see residential buildings bombarded and kids crying on the sound of gunfire is a positive set off of their trauma from having skilled the invasion of Iraq personally.

‘Horrible recollections’

Mariam Jaber, a 34-year-old Iraqi who lived in Basra throughout the US-led Iraq assault in 2003 and moved to america shortly after, stated any sight of the struggling in Ukraine was “too onerous to observe” and it “immediately introduced again horrible recollections”.

“I select to not observe the information as carefully just because I feel it will likely be an excessive amount of for my psychological well being, and I can solely pray that all the things will likely be high-quality quickly,” she stated.

Footage of Ukrainians lining up by borders to go away the nation and enter neighbouring states has additionally introduced painful and generally humiliating recollections for a lot of Iraqis.

Following the invasion of Iraq, sectarian battle quickly engulfed the nation – many Iraqis needed to flee both to different Center Japanese nations or locations in Europe and North America.

But their exodus was not welcomed by many Western international locations. Nationwide borders had been shut to them, boats taking refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea had been intercepted, and plenty of nonetheless stay in detention centres.

Ukrainians, however, may enter the European Union, a spot many Iraqis have risked their lives attempting to enter with no visa.

As Iraqis are cruelly reminded of the invasion in 2003, the US, EU and their allies are slamming sanction packages on Russian oligarchs.

That features Putin personally with the intention of “imposing prices on Russia that may additional isolate Russia from the worldwide monetary system and our economies”, in keeping with the most recent assertion issued by the White Home.

From exclusion from SWIFT, a dominant worldwide monetary messaging system, to a focused asset freeze, the West seems decided to make sure Russia faces the results of the invasion.

‘Arduous to even purchase bread’

The phrase “sanctions” sadly will not be unfamiliar to Iraqis.

The US launched among the fiercest financial penalties on Iraq following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The sanctions had been so debilitating {that a} technology of Iraqis suffered unspeakable ache and its rippling impact continues to be seen within the present Iraqi economic system.

“When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the sanctions had been so onerous that Iraq couldn’t purchase pencils for a decade,” wrote Omar al-Nidawi, an Iraq analyst, on Twitter because the West was mulling sanction packages on Russia.

Many Iraqis are conflicted on the introduction of harsh sanctions on Russia: some are cheering the punishments to Putin over the conflict, whereas others are fearful they might find yourself solely making unusual Russians’ lives depressing – with out doing a lot in curbing Putin and his oligarchs’ potential to wage wars.

“It was once so tough that it was onerous to even purchase bread,” stated Maher Mensour, an Iraqi who lived by means of the crushing sanctions imposed on Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait.

“They meant to punish Saddam, however all they did was to make our lives unlivable.”

The language put out by america, EU, United Kingdom, and Canada appears to counsel this spherical of sanctions is particularly focused at Kremlin leaders and a few central monetary establishments. But it’s unclear how – and to what extent – these sanctions will have an effect on unusual Russians’ every day life.

The conflict in Ukraine continues to be unfolding and the state of affairs is quick altering. 4 days into the invasion, Russia has but to take management of the capital metropolis Kyiv.

Again in 2003, it took US-led forces greater than three weeks following the invasion to make sure the autumn of Baghdad.

As folks in Baghdad painfully transfer on from their conflict recollections, some predict even when Russia may take Kyiv, what follows the seize, and even the regime change, can be extra defining than the battle for Ukraine itself.

“Did you see what occurred after Baghdad fell?” Samer al-Idreesi requested.

“It was pure chaos: insurgents began to look all over the place,” he added, referring to the battle following the removing of Saddam and the armed teams nonetheless threatening Iraq’s safety.

The battles following the invasion had been indirectly extra brutal than those fought throughout it. Insurgent teams sprung up throughout the nation, both in opposition to American forces or with the intent to take advantage of the vacuum left by an absence of central governance.

“Nobody is aware of what may occur in Ukraine. Possibly there will likely be insurgents and possibly there will likely be extra bloodshed, or possibly it is going to finish quickly with a peace speak,” al-Idreesi stated.

“However I actually hope the struggling that we skilled as Iraqis wouldn’t be repeated in Ukraine.”

Romania on edge as Russia invades Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine crisis News


Cluj-Napoca, Romania – “I guarantee you, no Romanian ought to worry for the protection of himself and his household,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday, shortly after Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – its largest navy deployment since World Conflict II.

“Romania enjoys the widest attainable safety ensures. By no means in our historical past have we been higher protected in opposition to any potential aggression. Romania won’t be drawn into the navy battle in Ukraine,” stated the Romanian chief.

In a TV handle the identical night, Defence Minister Vasile Dancu stated Romanians “should not at risk” and that they shouldn’t be frightened as a result of there “received’t be a navy battle between NATO and Russia”.

Nevertheless, the assurances from the management of the nation of 19 million individuals might have little impact in Romania, a NATO member since 2004, the place many have been on edge because the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Romania’s worry is rooted in repeated Russian invasions over the centuries. The Russian-controlled territory of Transnistria in Moldova, simply 100 miles (160km) from the Romanian border, is Moscow’s western-most garrison.

Romania pledged “unconditional political assist” for Ukraine within the occasion of a Russian invasion and has offered Ukraine with cybersecurity backing.

A protester holds a drawing of eastern Ukraine and Moldavian territoriesA protester holds a drawing of jap Ukraine and Moldovan territories with ‘not Russia’ written on them throughout a protest exterior the Ukrainian embassy in Romania [Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via Reuters]

As bombs started to fall in Ukraine early on Thursday morning, Bucharest-based pupil Valentin Lăzureanu woke as much as a cascade of notifications on his telephone saying the Russian assault.

“When the information and footage began coming in, I realised we didn’t have a devoted house for it and everybody was getting their info from so many scattered sources,” the 24-year-old informed Al Jazeera.

Lăzureanu created a Fb group the place individuals might share assets and confirm info to assist one another perceive what was taking place throughout the border.

Since then, younger Romanians within the group – referred to as Conflict Room – have been discussing attainable eventualities that would even engulf their nation.

“How seemingly is it that they might invade Romania as effectively?” requested one within the group.

Romanian international coverage analyst Oana Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera that whereas a direct navy battle between Russia and Romania is unlikely, political, financial and social repercussions of the Ukraine invasion are “palpable”.

“There’s a degradation of the regional safety scenario,” stated Popescu-Zamfir. “This impacts Romania economically as a result of your entire area is perceived by traders as having the next danger of funding.”

Popescu-Zamfir additionally famous that Romania, like a lot of Europe, relies on Russian gasoline. The battle might set off a spike in gasoline costs or full interruption of gasoline flows into Romania.

A satellite image shows a long traffic jam of vehicles leaving UkraineA satellite tv for pc picture reveals a protracted site visitors jam of autos leaving Ukraine, close to Siret, Romania [Courtesy of Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Ukrainians search asylum in Romania

Moreover the financial impact, Romania has additionally obtained greater than 10,000 Ukrainian asylum seekers at their northern and jap borders because the Russian invasion.

Earlier this week, Defence Minister Dincu stated Romania was able to taking in half one million refugees.

Nevertheless, in response to Romanian media reviews, no initiative has but been taken to construct camps for the Ukrainian asylum seekers.

That lack of presidency motion has prompted many Romanians to type one other Fb group, United for Ukraine, the place nearly 50,000 individuals have provided to pay for Ukrainian asylum seekers’ flights or lodge bills, and even present them with locations to sleep.

Ukraine additionally has a sizeable Romanian inhabitants of about 150,000 individuals, a lot of whom are anticipated to return to Romania within the coming days.

‘US will defend each centimetre of NATO’

When US President Joe Biden introduced extra sanctions in opposition to Russia on Thursday night, he additionally dedicated to sending extra troops to Romania, a strategic NATO associate within the area which hosts alliance bases and a key missile defence system.

“If he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) strikes in NATO international locations, we are going to become involved,” stated Biden in his handle, which was extensively reported in Romania.

“The US will defend each centimetre of NATO,” stated Biden.

Within the leadup to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany and France additionally despatched weapons, troops and plane to Romania, which has been staunch in its assist of the transatlantic alliance and its condemnation of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

However in response to international coverage professional Popescu-Zamfir, central and Japanese European international locations have “repeatedly identified the hazard of Russian aggression”.

Popescu-Zamfir believes the Black Sea, which Romania shares with Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, stays “an especially weak space”.

“Romania, particularly, made efforts after the [2016] NATO summit in Warsaw when extra significance was given to the Baltic international locations and Poland, whereas we didn’t have any contingency plans for the Black Sea,” she informed Al Jazeera.

In the meantime, the Romanian media have been preserving a round the clock watch on the developments in Ukraine, additionally measuring how the invasion might have an effect on their nation.

“I’m hopeful the West will reply to Russia’s aggression with unity,” stated Lăzureanu.

A woman holds the arm of her child as they arrive from Ukraine to RomaniaA girl holds her little one’s hand as they arrive from Ukraine to Romania, at Sighetu Marmatiei border crossing close to Baia Mare, Romania [Fedja Grulovic/Reuters]

‘Will they invade Moldova?’

Many in Romania are additionally frightened about Moldova, a nation of two.6 million individuals which has sturdy historic and linguistic ties with Romania however is just not part of NATO.

“In some ways, the Republic of Moldova is an extension of Romania,” Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera.

“Will they invade Moldova as effectively?” requested one of many members of Conflict Room, the Fb web page created by Lăzureanu.

Former Romanian President Traian Basescu even urged the federal government to do a “snap referendum” to unite Moldova and Romania to discourage Russia from advancing into the territories.

Whereas President Iohannis didn’t entertain the concept, he spoke to his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu after Russia attacked Ukraine and guaranteed her of assist in case of any Russian aggression.

Within the early twentieth century, Romania and Moldova had been united as the identical nation, however in 1940, Moldova grew to become a republic of the Soviet Union.

The fashionable-day Republic of Moldova, created after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, stays influenced socially and politically by Russia.

Most Moldovans communicate Russian and ethnic Russians dwelling in Moldova splintered off and declared their unbiased republic in Transnistria in 1990.