Iraqis With Ties to U.S. Cross Border Into Despair
Contractor Employees Wait, Hope for Visas
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 17, 2007; A01
AMMAN, Jordan — At every opportunity, the Iraqis pull out photos of themselves side by side with U.S. soldiers, photos they feared to share inside their country. They offer up laminated notes of appreciation from American commanders. They flash expired U.S. Embassy badges they still keep in their wallets.
. . . “We are here only because of our work with the Americans,” said Intisar Ibrahim, 53, a tall, solemn engineer who left Iraq two years ago. “They have an obligation to help us, but until now we have not seen any help.”
. . .Ibrahim, the engineer, a lavender scarf covering her brown hair, stared in silence at a letter thanking her for “exceptional dedication and quality of workmanship” in rehabilitating living and working quarters for the U.S. Army. Dated Nov. 17, 2003, it was signed by Lt. Col. Charles E. Williams, commander of the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. . . Company managers, she said, treated her as an equal and rewarded good work with more contracts. As she spoke, she pulled her expired KBR badge from her handbag.
“I always felt like they are my family,” Ibrahim said. “All my employees liked to work for the Americans. Those were the best years of my life.”
. . . Then, one Friday, her bodyguard was kidnapped. A few days later, his kidnappers called his family seeking Ibrahim’s whereabouts. They knew she worked for the Americans. For three days, Ibrahim and her family stayed inside their house and slept with guns beside their beds. Within a week, they fled to Amman.
That was two years ago. Since then, Ibrahim has seen scores of colleagues and friends who worked for U.S. contractors flee Iraq. “I have never heard of anybody who went to the United States,” she said.
So, if I have this straight, we invaded a country where we didn’t speak the language and couldn’t read the street-signs. Without Iraqi help, we were just dummies with guns, something else the administration didn’t plan for.
So we hired Iraqis to interpret and guide, supervise and organize this big, dangerous deaf-and dumb force that was visited upon their country. Insurgents (they are suddenly insurgents and not al-Qaeda, when it suits us), along with targeting Americans, targeted those who helped us.
In fact they particularly targeted them, because those unfortunates had to live at home and go to work (for us) and feed their kids while living double-lives. No Green Zone for these people. Their reward? Left to swing in the wind in Jordan, watching the money we paid them run out and their hopes as well.
Two million of them.
Thanks for your help, now go get your own life–we’re done with you.