Iraqis skeptical Bush speech means brighter future
( 2003-09-24 09:05) (Agencies)
Iraqis reacted with skepticism Tuesday to a call from President Bush for more international help in rebuilding Iraq, saying the United States was looking after its own interests at their expense.
"Bush is afraid for the future of his forces inside Iraq because of the resistance, and in the end what he wants is to get international troops to protect his interests," said Hadi Hassan, a laborer in Baghdad.
Musa Abdullah, a coppersmith, said Bush was trying to get others to do the United States' work for it.
"Bush is contracting others to protect him... and in the end it's the Iraqi people who foot the bill," he said.
"Bush is afraid of the Iraqis and he's getting mercenaries, but this will only increase the resistance... Bush is asking for more troops so that he stays in Iraq and says to the world that Iraq is not capable of ruling itself," he added.
Bush asked a skeptical U.N. General Assembly for help in Iraq and said it was time to set aside past differences over the U.S.-led invasion.
Bush also resisted a speedy transfer of Iraqi sovereignty, which had been urged by some key allies, saying he wanted an orderly process that should not be hurried.
But many Iraqis said they were not prepared to wait for self-rule and wanted an end to occupation. Although many welcomed the toppling of former leader Saddam Hussein, public anger and frustration toward occupying troops has mounted.
Street vendor Ali Hussein said more international involvement would only prolong Iraq's occupation.
"It's an excuse to stay in Iraq... It will create chaos and will not solve America's predicament in Iraq," he said.
"Bush should call back the Iraqi army with the exception of the Baathists, and leave them to police the country," he said, referring to Saddam's old ruling party.
The United States has disbanded the Iraqi army and is setting up a smaller corps of Iraqi troops.
Many Iraqis said more foreign troops -- even if they were part of a multinational force -- were not the answer.
"America is now in a real mess and they want to find a way out... It's worse than Vietnam but getting more troops will only make it more difficult for them here," said Abdul Rahman Khalaf, a clerk in a private accounting firm.
Haider Ali, a money exchanger, said more troops in Iraq would just mean more hardship for Iraqis.
"This will only make it clearer it is an occupation, without offering us anything in return," he said.
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