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Iraqis in Jordan Divided Over War With Iraq - 2003-03-11


The prospect of a war against Iraq divides the more than 150,000 Iraqis who now live in Jordan. Some would like to see a U.S.-led effort to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Others say foreign intervention is a dangerous prospect.

Amy Katz has more.

Since Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, some 150,000 Iraqis have poured into neighboring Jordan, to seek asylum and economic opportunities. The capital, Amman, has gradually become a refuge for Iraqis. They gather in Hashimiya Square, where the restaurants serve Iraqi food. Varying opinions can be found there, about a possible war against Iraq. NATURAL SOUND, HADI AZIZ TALKING IN ARABIC

Hadi Aziz, who is from southern Iraq, runs a small restaurant in downtown Amman. He is among those Iraqis who are angry with their Arab neighbors, who they say abandoned them after the 1990 Iraq crisis. Mr. Aziz predicts victory for Saddam Hussein because he says the Iraqi leader is right and some other Arabs are wrong when they say he should give up power.

Mohammed Mandalawe feels a lot differently.

MOHAMMED MANDALAWE

“People are oppressed in Iraq. It’s dehumanized. We are no longer human beings in Iraq and anyone who says anything to the contrary is simply a liar.”

Mr. Mandalawe says if there is a war, Iraqis will want weapons so they can fight Saddam Hussein themselves.

But most people would rather have peace than war. Ali Abdel-Amir, a former Iraqi soldier who served in the 1991 Gulf War, is now a writer, critical of the Baghdad regime.

ALI ABDEL-AMIR, FORMER IRAQI SOLDIER
“Inside Iraq there are many apprehensions. There is an official mobilization saying we must fight the Americans. There is also the Iraqi opposition which expects the regime will be destroyed quickly and they can easily get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime.”

NATURAL SOUND, WOMAN TALKING IN ARABIC

This woman says Iraqis need peace, not war, to live with dignity. But, she says, if war comes, Iraqis will fight their enemies and defend their country.

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