Former Iraqi citizen seeks freedom for Iraqis, makes plea for war

Elizabeth Dunbar

An Iraqi dissident asked the University’s College Republicans on Wednesday to help him build support for a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

“The people want to be free,” said Yacoub al Jaffery, now a U.S. citizen attending North Hennepin Community College.

“They want to live life just like anyone else,” he said.

Al Jaffery told the group of approximately 25 about his experience living under Saddam Hussein and why he thinks the U.S. government should oust the dictator.

“You can’t say anything bad about Saddam Hussein because he is the god,” al Jaffery said, adding that Iraqis don’t have a choice in their government and probably wouldn’t choose Hussein if they did.

“All Iraqis want this war to happen today and not tomorrow because they know Saddam Hussein is gone after that,” he said.

Al Jaffery said he came to the United States in 1996. His family fled Iraq in 1991 after the Gulf War and spent time in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia, he said.

While many Americans think a war in Iraq would be detrimental to the people living there, al Jaffery said, there is a huge difference between the U.S. and Iraqi military.

“We were enemies to the American army, but they didn’t touch people,” he said, describing when U.S. forces bombed bridges in his city of Nassiryah in southern Iraq.

In contrast, al Jaffery said, the Iraqi forces that arrived at the city after the war killed many people.

“There was horrible violence,” he said. “The streets were full of bodies.”

Al Jaffery said he hopes talking to Twin Cities groups will help spread the word about what the Iraqi people want. So far, he said, he isn’t satisfied with the media and antiwar movement.

“Nobody listens to Iraqis,” he said. “I don’t want my country if Saddam Hussein is there. (In Iraq) they can’t say it. If they say it, they’re gone.”

College Republicans chairman Tyler Richter said he would try to contact Republican Sen. Norm Coleman about al Jaffery’s position and help him organize people in the Twin Cities.

“The false perception, especially on this campus, is that the administration is going into Iraq for the wrong reasons and that Saddam Hussein is not a real threat to the world,” Richter said.

Rohini Khanna, a sophomore political science major and College Republicans member, said the call to liberate the Iraqi people generally is not a minority opinion.

“It’s a shame that people don’t go find the facts first,” Khanna said. “We’re not just blindly supporting the president.”

Elizabeth Dunbar covers international affairs and welcomes comments at [email protected]