Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


After Saddam ‘nightmare,’ Baghdad wants U.S. out soon

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) — Baghdad residents expressed relief Thursday at the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule but said U.S. forces should restore order quickly and leave, or face the wrath of an emboldened population.

“Saddam’s era was a nightmare. He was the real Dracula,” said Mehdi al-Aibi Mansur.

“Saddam killed millions of people in war and oppression, including three of my brothers,” said the Shi’ite merchant, who lost an eye to shrapnel in the ruinous eight-year war that Saddam waged on neighboring Iran.


“A just infidel ruler is better than an oppressive Muslim ruler,” he added, quoting an early Islamic Shi’ite leader.

But Mansur said American forces, which rumbled into central Baghdad unopposed Wednesday, three weeks after launching their invasion to topple Saddam, should have tackled the growing chaos in the city of more than five million people.

Looters ransacked offices in the Iraqi capital for a second day after Saddam’s security forces melted away, leaving U.S. forces to fight sporadic battles across the city.

Flames poured out of the first floor of the Trade Ministry on the east bank of the Tigris River as people ran off with stolen furniture and computers.

Al-Arabiya television station showed pictures of Iraqis looting what it said was the German embassy in Baghdad and the French cultural center. People were streaming out carrying water cans, mattresses and a plate rack.

Even the traffic policemen abandoned their posts.

Mansur moved most of his goods from the teeming Shi’ite district of Saddam City to central Baghdad to protect them from pillage, but said U.S. forces had “made a big mistake.”

“They should have had a plan to preserve security,” he said.

He also warned that if the American troops stayed too long, they would face the anger of millions of people, emboldened by Saddam’s fall after decades of repression.

“People are no longer afraid. Fear has escaped. People will not be afraid to rise up against the Americans,” he said.

Who will rule us?

Scenes of dozens of Iraqis trampling joyfully on a fallen statue of Saddam were broadcast around the world Wednesday, but that jubilation was tinged with uncertainty a day later as people pondered their future.

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was worrying about what was going to happen to my country. Who is going to rule us — the Americans or who?” said retired teacher Ali Suleiman.

Doctors returning to the Saadoun private hospital for the first time since the start of the U.S.-led war March 20 were bewildered by the rapid collapse of Saddam’s authority.

“It’s very strange. He controlled the country, but he didn’t defend it,” said anesthetist Mumtaz al-Sayegh.

“We do not care who controls the streets now as long as there is water, electricity and security,” he said. “At the moment there is no government and the looting is enormous. We are afraid for our houses.”

Mina Fayez, a 20-year-old second-year dental student, said she had not slept properly since President Bush launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” three weeks ago, unleashing a ferocious bombardment against Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

“I only want freedom. I don’t care who provides it,” she said, handing lemonade to a soldier in a U.S. tank on Saadoun Street. “A period in our history which hurt us a lot is over. I think the coming era will be better.”

But she echoed Mansur’s wariness of the U.S. presence. “I’m happy because of the freedom that has come with them, but even they could bring colonization and end up hurting us,” she said.

“For 20 years I had no ambition. Now I think I will,” said Dalia Hinoudi, a 24-year-old biotechnology student. “I want a job. I want to prosper. I want to live.”

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