Colin Powell: a symbol of destruction for Iraqis

Former US Secretary of State will be remembered after death for failed policies on 2003 Iraq war

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died from Covid-19 complications. AP
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The name Colin Powell, to many Iraqis, represents the driving force behind the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein and unravelled years of misery and destruction.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell died on Monday of complications relating to Covid-19. He was 84 years old.

His overseeing of the US-led invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991 made him a household name, prompting speculation for nearly a decade that he might run for president, a course he ultimately decided against.

However, his image throughout the years was tarnished by faulty claims to justify the 2003 war in the Middle Eastern country.

Muntader Al Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former US president George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad in 2018, said on Twitter: “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.”

Since the US invasion to oust Hussein from power there have been nearly two decades of military and humanitarian losses for Iraqis.

In 2001, Powell joined Mr Bush’s administration and became the first black person to hold the position of Secretary of State and represent Washington to the international community.

Powell’s address to the UN Security Council in 2003 laid out the American case for the US invasion which cited faulty information that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The weapons were never found.

The speech included pictures he said were of mobile arms laboratories, and he said there was “no doubt” that Hussein had hidden chemical and biological weapons.

But the following year, Powell told Congress that the evidence he had been given was “wrong” and the speech was “a blot” on his record.

“It was painful,” he told interviewer Barbara Walters in 2006. “It is painful now.”

The statements to the UN kicked off events for which Iraqis say they are still paying a hefty price.

“To me I remember his iconic image atthe UN lying to the world about Iraq‘s WMD which led to the occupation, death of hundreds of thousands of people and destruction of a nation,” Omar Al Salah, an Iraqi journalist, said on Twitter.

Mohammad Al Kenani, a 63-year-old Iraqi, said he would never be able to forget what Powell did to his country.

“The man died, but we will not forget what he did to Iraq and his wrong policy, which led to today,” he said. “He was difficult to handle and did not want the stability of Iraq.”

Powell’s failed policies “led to the destruction and to all what befell Iraq and it unfortunately took us backwards,” said 53-year-old Iraqi Amin Ahmed.

Updated: October 19, 2021, 11:15 AM