Mustapha Abbas: 'They came over here promising so much'

Mustapha Abbas, 20, was born in Essex to Iraqi-exile parents. Two weeks ago he went back to Iraq for the first time to promote his real estate business at the first international trade fair since the end of the war. But the growing violence meant the fair was cancelled, and a year after Saddam's statue came down, Mustapha surveys his 'liberated' homeland as it descends into anarchy
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The Independent Online

When Saddam was toppled I thought it would be a golden new start for Iraq - an important new phase in Iraqi history. I thought the only people who would be upset about Saddam being taken out would be the thugs and clansmen who were making money out of him.

When Saddam was toppled I thought it would be a golden new start for Iraq - an important new phase in Iraqi history. I thought the only people who would be upset about Saddam being taken out would be the thugs and clansmen who were making money out of him.

But now people here are saying that Saddam was a problem, but at least there was order. Before, if you kept your mouth shut and didn't get on his bad side you were OK.

Now there is no order, no certainty, no security and everyone thinks that the Americans are here primarily to take their oil, regardless of the human cost. My family didn't spend the last 25 years in Essex just to return to this. Innocent people are being murdered - in some areas it's just total chaos. And instead of calming the situation down, the Americans are throwing fuel on the fire by treating Iraqis like dirt. For example, I went to an internet café with some friends, and on the way we passed a building ... which the Americans had taken over as a base.

There were two scrawny Iraqis protecting the gate and we asked them if we could have a word with an American soldier because we were interested to see what an average GI was like.

Then an American soldier in the distance cocked his gun, put on his helmet and came out to us - as if my friends and I were out to kill someone. Then another soldier came out, and before we knew it there were 10 or 15 soldiers standing in front of us.

We just wanted to say hello, but they were utterly disrespectful. We told them we were from London, but the first soldier said he did not know where London was.

We wanted to take a picture with him and I gave my camera to a friend. Then the soldier said: "He doesn't know how to use a camera - he's an Iraqi." They're just completely disrespectful. They have no knowledge about Iraq and Iraqi customs. All they know about is America.

They keep swearing at people and they talk very aggressively - it's fucking this and fucking that - Iraqis understand that and it's considered extremely rude.

They came over here promising so much, but didn't have a clue. Everyone here knows the Americans are here just for the oil, but for most Iraqis the number one priority is safety.

Before the invasion, Saddam was the only person that stole from you and killed people - he had all the ordinary criminals under control. Now all hell's broken loose.

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