Iraq’s slide to nowhere
Iraqi photographer Thaier al-Sudani answers questions on the nine year war and the pull out of U.S. troops.
Do you remember the day the U.S. launched air strikes?
I remember that day well. As the U.S. military jets bombed Baghdad, I was on the roof watching. We all thought that Iraq would be away from the war and violence after ousting Saddam and that Iraq would be among the top countries in the Middle East, due to its natural resources.
Describe your life under Saddam’s regime?
Life was normal. I studied design at the Arts Academy in Baghdad. Life was much safer than it is now.
How did you get into photography?
Photography was my hobby. I was inspired by my father who was a photographer. I worked at the local newspaper al-Saa’a just after the war began in 2003. I moved to Reuters in the same year when a friend (photographer Ceerwan Aziz) told me that Reuters needed a photographer who had a camera and could work for a day, or a week, or for a long time.
How do you feel about the nine years of war and what have been the major changes in your daily life?
I am frustrated after nine years of war. Hope is shrinking as the Islamist movement controls the Iraqi scene. I am afraid of the future and afraid of the return of armed militants. I am afraid of going in and out of my home and work, although I got more experience as I learned the essentials of a career in journalism through my work at Reuters.
What are the major differences in life under Saddam versus after Saddam?
Security was better then but the income level and technology are better now compared with under Saddam. Also, we can now speak up and contact the outside world.
Which images from the conflict stay with you?
I carry the image of my colleague’s martyrdom in my mind always. Namir Noor-Eldeen represented self-sacrifice for news photography.
Is there anything you think people outside Iraq should know about Iraq?
The Iraqi people dislike wars. We are a tolerant people who love peace. Iraqis can forget their pain and their wounds but their fault is living in such a stormy region.
What do you think will happen now that the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq?
The time for the U.S. pull out is not right, I think. It will leave Iraq in the thick of political and sectarian struggles and the battle for territory. Iraq is sliding to nowhere. But, I still have a ray of hope and this hope will lead to our survival.