Ten years after the hijacked airliner attacks on the United States, Iraqis are swamped in the violent wake of a war launched on a tenuous premise and uncertain if they are headed to democracy or dictatorship.
While the sectarian slaughter that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war is years past, the violence spawned by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein continues to take a heavy toll in an oil-rich former pariah trying to rebuild.
To this day, some Iraqis believe the line drawn by the Bush administration between September 11 and Iraq, and its discredited theory that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, belied a darker U.S. desire for control in the Middle East.
“Please don’t deceive people and say what happened in Iraq was due to September 11th. America’s plan to occupy Iraq is old,” said Ahmed Raheem, 40, the owner of an electrical shop in Baghdad. “What happened on September 11th was just a reason to implement this plan.”
While the invasion of Afghanistan marked Washington’s first foray in retaliation for the attacks on New York’s twin towers and the Pentagon, Iraq became the primary battlefield for then- President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” Islamist militants moved in by the thousands to engage U.S. troops.
More than eight years after American soldiers pulled down Saddam’s statue in Baghdad’s Firdous Square, an event cast as a first step from dictatorship to democracy, casualties of the war continue to mount as Iraq’s rebuilt police and army struggle to contain a lethal Islamist insurgency.
The United States has lost more than 4,400 troops in Iraq, a toll half again as great as that of September 11. Fifty-six of those deaths followed President Barack Obama’s August 31, 2010 end-of-combat declaration, seen by some Americans as the end of the war.
“A BIG LIE”