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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
My war: The Jordanian resident
Jordanian resident Samer Kurdi
The war in Iraq has had an impact on communities throughout the Middle East. Samer Kurdi, a businessman living in Amman with his American wife and their baby boy, describes the impact on Jordan.

I believe my attitude towards this war before it started is representative of the attitudes of most people in Jordan and the region - suspicion of the Americans and the reasons behind this war.

The Americans have little credibility in this part of the world, largely because of their bias towards Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.

I've never been to Baghdad, but the sight of it being bombed was very disturbing to me and to everybody I know.

Despite the circumstances and my own support for the deposition of the Iraqi regime, I felt that the bombing of Baghdad was a violation.

Ever since the first Gulf War, Jordan has become home to a fairly large community of Iraqis, either fleeing Saddam or just trying to make a living.

A couple of nights before Baghdad fell, I went to an Iraqi restaurant in downtown Amman - a popular, cheap place always crowded with Iraqi expatriates and workers.

Incarnation of evil

That night it was empty. The Iraqi young man who served me said that most of his clientele had gone back to Iraq, some to be with their families "to protect their families", some, according to him, went back to fight.

This man was quite forthcoming with his views. "Anybody is better than Saddam," he said.

He was Shia, and Saddam, he said, prevented them from taking part in Friday prayers. That, for him, seemed to be the clincher; the irrevocable proof that Saddam was the incarnation of evil.

"But we don't like the Americans," he added, "The Americans better watch out. If they are 'bad' then the Iraqis will boot them out."


The next day the airport fell, and soon after statues were toppling on all the satellite TV stations. It was a very significant, sobering moment for Jordanians. Shock and shame, but shame, I suppose, mainly that Baghdad (and Iraq) could fall so quickly to an invading force.

As far as I could tell there weren't very many Jordanians who, deep down, wanted Saddam to survive.

Many, perhaps the majority, merely wanted the US to pay a high price, to be bogged down in a Vietnam-style quagmire - to have a perceived American arrogance deflated.

Iraqis and Jordanians alike were generally glad to see the regime gone, but there's also a lot of apprehension, even a sense of foreboding as to what's going to happen next.

I know of an Iraqi woman whose husband, a professor, had a falling out with the regime a number of years ago and left his country and his position in an Iraqi university as a result.

These people were no fans of Saddam, and yet I heard she actually had a breakdown the night it became clear that Baghdad had fallen to the Americans and she was taken to hospital.

The majority of people were happy that things have changed, but many felt that somehow their own pride had been stepped on in the process, most vividly symbolised by the bombing then the fall and subsequent looting of Baghdad.

Things were changing in the Arab world even before the Americans began the war.

When I was growing up there was no such thing as real Arab media, just government sponsored rhetoric. These "broadcast services" still exist today, but this war has illustrated that today there is mainstream Arab media that is on par with that in the west, and is even better when it comes to coverage of this part of the world.

Arab rhetoric

I am proud of the way that a lot of satellite Arab networks covered this war, proud that these services have demonstrated that there is even such a thing as an Arab "voice".

It might be true that many of these Arab stations had a certain slant and subscribe to a certain distinctly Arab rhetoric, but they also managed in many cases to provide a more objective coverage than their counterparts in the west.

Do I think there's going to be a peaceful and stable future for Iraq? I do, because Iraq has money, and everybody wants it to be a stable, safe place to do business (especially the Americans).

I work for a Jordanian pharmaceutical company and Iraq has traditionally been our biggest market. This is also true for the Jordanian economy as a whole.

This war has had a significant adverse effect on us and all Jordanian businesses, and the whole business community in Jordan is waiting impatiently for order and stability to return so that they can get down to business again.

The best thing to come out of this war, in my view, is that the US now is directly engaged with the Arab masses.

As someone who knows the Americans and has spent lots of time in America, I am certain that this can only be a good thing.

I believe that if all parties involved at least became more culturally aware of the other, the causes of peace and stability in this region will receive a boost.


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