Iraqi Newspapers: Attacks Were ‘Punishment’

By: Waiel Faleh, Associated Press Writer

(AP) Iraqi newspapers marked the anniversary of Sept. 11 with banner headlines describing the terrorist attack as “God’s Punishment” against America, and ordinary Iraqis also voiced anger at a country they fear might be preparing an invasion of their country.

The state-owned weekly Al-Iktisadi covered its front page Wednesday with a photograph of a burning World Trade Center tower and a two-word headline in red: “God’s Punishment.”

The daily Al-Jumhuriya, in a front-page editorial, said the lesson the United States should have drawn from Sept. 11 was that its policies inspired hatred. Many Arabs have linked Sept. 11 to a sense in the region that Washington unfairly sides with Israel and that its Iraqi policy has hurt ordinary citizens here.

“America used the (Sept. 11) events to increase its hostile policy against nations under the pretext of anti-terrorism,” Al-Jumhuriya added.

Washington accuses Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring terrorists and possessing weapons of mass destruction. President Bush said he hasn’t yet decided whether to attack Iraq but insists that Saddam must be removed from power.

Ordinary Iraqis fear their country will again come under American bombing, as it was during the 1991 Persian Gulf War that forced Saddam to reverse his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

“Events like Sept. 11 are sad but it is an opportunity for the American people to feel what bombing could do to nations,” Ali Ahmed, a 47-year-old who owns a Baghdad stationary shop, said Wednesday, the first anniversary of the attacks. “America has proven it has no respect for nations by wanting to change the government in Iraq. How would an American feel toward somebody who wants to change his government?”

Sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until the inspectors certify Baghdad has surrendered nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

“If they enjoy seeing us suffer under sanctions for 12 years, we should enjoy seeing them suffer,” said Sameera Kadhim, a 53-year-old housewife. “My children never stopped asking me at night, ‘When is America going to bomb us?'”

Iraq agreed to weapons inspections after the Gulf War. The inspectors, complaining of lack of Iraqi cooperation, left in December 1998 ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes.

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