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Don't be fooled by joyous scenes, says refugee

by Solomon Kane Saturday, Apr. 12, 2003 at 1:43 PM

"The next chapter is going to be a conflict between the Iraqi people and the invaders, the pro-American regime in Iraq," Dr Reben told reporters. "Sooner or later, the Americans will face the revolutionary anger and aggressiveness of the Iraqi people."

Don't be fooled by joyous scenes, says refugee
April 11 2003, 4:39 PM

Scenes of joyous Baghdad residents welcoming United States soldiers gave a misleading impression of how Iraqis felt about the US, an Iraqi refugee said today.

Renwar Reben said the war was between two enemies of the Iraqi people - Saddam Hussein's regime and the US, which backed brutal regimes in Baghdad for 35 years.

"The next chapter is going to be a conflict between the Iraqi people and the invaders, the pro-American regime in Iraq," Dr Reben told reporters.

"Sooner or later, the Americans will face the revolutionary anger and aggressiveness of the Iraqi people."

Dr Reben said Iraqis believed the US was behind the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf War.

"Iraqis also know America supported Saddam Hussein's use of a biological bomb against Kurds in 1988.

"At that time, (former president) George Bush, the father (of the current US president), vetoed against condemnation of Iraq for these actions."

Iraqis also blamed the US for the suffering endured over the last 13 years because of UN economic sanctions.

"Five thousand children died each month because of lack of medication and lack of sanitation."

Dr Reben was speaking ahead of this weekend's Palm Sunday march, whose key aim this year will be to raise funds for the rebuilding of post-war Iraq.

"This first stage may mean the coalition of the willing has won the war but we have great concerns about whether they're able to achieve a winning of the peace," NSW Greens MP Ian Cohen told reporters.

Peter Jennings, executive officer of the union movement's overseas aid wing APHEDA, said Iraq cannot be neglected.

"On Palm Sunday, we have to raise our voices and say `the war's finished ... the hard work now starts," he told reporters.

"We don't want Iraq to become like Afghanistan, a wilderness."

Australia helped destroy Iraq, so it was up to Australians to help rebuild it, he said.

Colleen Hodge, education manager for the National Council of Churches, said a joint appeal had been launched with Muslim aid groups.

"(This is) to demonstrate our willingness to work together as people of faith and our shared commitment for peace, particularly at this time in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East."

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