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.”