Iraqis say Colin Powel lied, still blame him for role in Iraq war
For many people in Iraq, former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell evokes an image of a man who went before the U.N. Security Council in 2003 and lied in order to justify launching a war against their country.
Powell was one of several Bush administration officials whom Iraqis hold responsible for a disastrous U.S.-led invasion that led to decades of death, chaos and violence in their country.
His U.N. testimony was a key part of events that they say had a heavy cost for Iraqis and others in the Middle East.
“He lied, lied and lied,” said Maryam, a 51-year-old Iraqi writer and mother of two in northern Iraq who spoke to the AP.
“He lied, and we are the ones who got stuck with never-ending wars,” she added.
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell oversaw the Persian Gulf war to oust the Iraqi army in 1991 after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
But Iraqis remember Powell more for his U.N. presentation justifying the invasion of their country more than a decade later by lying that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, even displaying a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon.
Powell had called Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons “a web of lies.”
No weapons of mass destruction were ever found, however, and the speech was later derided as a shameful point in his career.
“I am saddened by the death of Colin Powell without being tried for his crimes in Iraq. ... But I am sure that the court of God will be waiting for him,” tweeted Muntadher al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who vented his outrage at the U.S. by throwing his shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a 2008 news conference in Baghdad.
In 2011, Powell told Al Jazeera he regretted providing misleading intelligence that led the U.S. invasion, calling it a “ blot on my record.” He said a lot of sources cited by the intelligence community were wrong.
Powell’s U.N. testimony "resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis. This blood is on his hands,” said Muayad al-Jashami, a 37-year old Iraqi who works with nongovernmental organizations.
While he did not suffer direct losses, al-Jashami said he continues to struggle with stress and panic attacks as a result of growing up with war, displacement, and years of terrorist bombings in the country.
Aqeel al-Rubai, 42, who owns a clothes and cosmetics shop in Baghdad, lost his cousin in the U.S. war. He also blames the U.S. for the death of his father, who died of a heart attack following the U.S. invasion.