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 practically 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 similar to Anbar the place the preventing was a few of the most intense in the course of 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 nations,” mentioned Samer al-Idreesi, a 47-year-old from the capital Baghdad.

Having lived by means of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US’ response assault of Iraq in 2003, al-Idreesi instructed Al Jazeera he believed all warmongers needs 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 chargeable for the September 11, 2001 assaults on the US.

“Saddam, Bush, and Putin – they’re all canine,” al-Idreesi mentioned. “And if Putin may study 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 virtually all the time stays true: bizarre 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 mentioned they may sympathize with the displaced and have been reminded of an identical ordeal.

“I do not forget that my dad and mom requested me to pack all of the issues I wanted as a result of the Individuals have been coming,” mentioned Mona Saade, 31, from Baghdad, as she recalled the times main as much as the US-led invasion when she was 12 years outdated.

“However then, we shortly realized that we didn’t know the place we may go – there could possibly be preventing actually in all places on this nation.”

As Saade was talking on the cellphone with Al Jazeera, she mentioned a information alert appeared on the TV display: city warfare intensified in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis Kharkiv. She paused for a couple of 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 instructed us city warfare was intensifying in Baghdad or in Basra,” Saade mentioned.

In contrast to Saade and others who’re following the information in Ukraine intently, others are selecting to look away from the vicious information cycle. For them, to see residential buildings bombarded and youngsters crying on the sound of gunfire is a certain 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 in the course of the US-led Iraq assault in 2003 and moved to the US shortly after, mentioned any sight of the struggling in Ukraine was “too onerous to observe” and it “immediately introduced again horrible recollections”.

“I select to not comply with the information as intently just because I feel it is going to be an excessive amount of for my psychological well being, and I can solely pray that every little thing might be fantastic quickly,” she mentioned.

Footage of Ukrainians lining up by borders to depart the nation and enter neighbouring states has additionally introduced painful and typically 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 nations. Nationwide borders have been shut to them, boats taking refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea have 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 accordance with the newest 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 implications of the invasion.

‘Laborious to even purchase bread’

The phrase “sanctions” sadly isn’t unfamiliar to Iraqis.

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

“When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the sanctions have 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 frightened they may find yourself solely making bizarre Russians’ lives depressing – with out doing a lot in curbing Putin and his oligarchs’ skill to wage wars.

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

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

The language put out by the US, EU, United Kingdom, and Canada appears to recommend 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 bizarre Russians’ every day life.

The conflict in Ukraine remains to be unfolding and the scenario 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, could 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 in all places,” he added, referring to the battle following the elimination of Saddam and the armed teams nonetheless threatening Iraq’s safety.

The battles following the invasion have been not directly 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 a scarcity of central governance.

“Nobody is aware of what may occur in Ukraine. Perhaps there might be insurgents and perhaps there might be extra bloodshed, or perhaps it can finish quickly with a peace speak,” al-Idreesi mentioned.

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

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