They love us! They really, really love us! Well, no, not really. Seems even the people that were happy to see U.S. tanks rolling into their towns are now starting to long for the brutal, but stable days of life under Saddam.
Many Iraqis say they view U.S. troops as foreign occupiers. As attacks against U.S. troops continue, the low-level guerrilla war that U.S. military officials say is being waged by former regime loyalists, foreign terrorists and criminals could grow into a wider nationalist struggle.
“The killing or capture of Saddam Hussein will do nothing,” said Mungith Daghir, vice president of the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, a group Baghdad University professors founded after Hussein’s ouster.
Omar Abid al-Mugeeth said he doesn’t care whether Hussein is alive or gone for good. Since U.S. troops rolled into the Iraqi capital in April and forced Hussein into hiding, the 31-year-old money changer has been robbed twice, losing thousands of dollars.
“When the Americans first came, trust in them was 100 percent,” al-Mugeeth said. “But now there is none. There is no security. There is no electricity. There is no water. At least we had these things under Saddam. Before, I hated Saddam. But right now, he is better than the Americans.”
Daghir said a poll by his research center found that 32 percent of 1,000 Iraqis surveyed say they believe that former regime loyalists are behind the attacks. However, 22 percent blame the attacks on U.S. provocations, including raiding people’s homes.
Outside experts that the Pentagon sent to Iraq in early July concluded that the situation will deteriorate unless Iraqis see quick improvement in the next three months in security, delivery of basic services, new jobs and more Iraqi involvement in the political process. Its report recommended expanding Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority, including more international personnel, and more cash from Congress.
Qaism Hadi, an organizer for the Union of Unemployed in Iraq, estimated that 6 million to 8 million Iraqi adults are unemployed. Iraq’s total population is 24 million. The group wants the coalition to give each unemployed person $100 a month until they can find jobs, and it wants something done to boost the economy.
“There are people here who are ready to kill themselves because they’ve had no job, no money, nothing for the last three months,” Hadi said.
Underground militant organizations are willing to pay 75,000 Iraqi dinars a month—about $50—for anyone who joins them and 1 million dinars ($670) for every attack in which they participate, Hadi said. “If the Americans can’t provide us with jobs or money, it is possible that many people will soon join these terrorist organizations,” he said.
Sure, Saddam may have butchered hundreds of thousands of his own people. He also may have played favorites and been sadistic in his methods of punishment. He still managed to provide a stability and security that has been lacking since the U.S. took over and that’s even with crippling sanctions against him.
Seems trying to do it on the cheap isn’t working out as well as Rumsfeld would like it to, perhaps he should consider kicking it up a notch before these people really get pissed off.