I was 18 years old when the war on Iraq started in March 2003. I vividly remember till today the shock and fear after the United States declared to the world its intent to invade Iraq. At the beginning I couldn't believe that it will really happen, and that leaders of the world will somehow prevent it, but then it did happen. Along with my family and neighbors I felt that we are not safe and that the US could just invade any country it wanted.
When September 2001 attacks happened our hearts were with America and we could understand why the US had to attack Al Qaeda and Taliban. But we could not understand what Iraq had to do with the September events and the real reason behind the American invasion especially that no relation could be found between Saddam Hussien and Al Qaeda, nor weapons of mass destruction were found upon the claim of US officials at the time. The narrative changed by time, and the reason for the invasion became "liberating people of Iraq". But then we saw the horrible pictures of tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison and the human rights abuses by coalition forces in Iraq. People in the Middle East were convinced that the US invaded Iraq for oil and oil only. The anti American sentiment was - understandably - on the rise.
13 years have passed, Iraq is now a failed state. I can't argue that Saddam was a tyrant and that people of Iraq deserved a better leader, but this change could never be brought by an invasion from a foreign country. No single country should be able to make decisions about the future of another country unilaterally or else why there should be an entity called the United Nations?
America wanted to remove Saddam and it did, but it did not have a plan for what should happen next which resulted into a political vacuum, moreover the implementation of the de-Ba'athification process negatively impacted thousands of Iraqis. There is an Egyptian proverb that says: "If you can't handle the demons, don't wake them up". The invasion awaken the civil war that no one till today is able to handle.
On daily basis we get to hear the bad news on what is happening in Iraq. My heart ache for the Iraqi people who were victims of this invasion, yet I feel the same for the young American soldiers who were brought to die on foreign lands for a purpose that did not really serve their own nation.
"I heard (US) soldiers speak with contempt about the Iraq people for living in "mud huts", wearing "man dresses" and giving "man kisses"; about how being in Iraq felt like being on Planet of the Apes or the bar scene in Star Wars".
"The soldiers viewed themselves as liberators and were angry that Iraqis were not more grateful for their liberation. When I arrived, one of the questions put to me was "What do we need to do to be loved?" I told them that people who invaded other people's countries, and killed people who were no threat to them, would never be loved".
Those two excerpts are from a book titled "The Unraveling" by Emma Sky. Sky was the representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Kirkuk in 20023 and then the political advisor to the US General Odierno from 2007-2010. I believe the two quotes perfectly explains lots of things about the American involvement in Iraq.
Americans often ask: "Why do they hate us?". It is not that people in the Middle East hate you as Americans, they just hate your foreign policy.
Nowadays, the United States is determined to fight terrorists of Daesh "ISIS" in Syria and Iraq, but ISIS is not the enemy of America alone, it is the enemy of the Middle East and the whole world and so it becomes imperative that we all should go into this fight together, yet I do not see us fully united. When we watch the news and we see that many Americans support the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump or that a teen was stabbed because he spoke Arabic in the street this means something is very wrong. Painting all Muslims with the same brush will alienate an important ally in the fight against terrorism and again the US will find itself carrying on a mission that should never be done unilaterally.
You cannot win a war when you are unable to identify your real enemy, can you?