BAGHDAD (AP) — For many Iraqis, the name Colin PowellThis image is of the U.S. secretary-of-state who, in 2003, argued against war by presenting his case to the U.N. Security Council.

Word of his death Monday at age 84They expressed anger toward the diplomat and former general in Iraq, who they consider to be one of many Bush officials responsible for the disastrous U.S.-led invasion which led to years of violence, death and chaos in Iraq.

The U.N. witness was an important part of the events, which they claim had a high cost to Iraqis and other Middle East citizens.

Colin Powell, then-former Secretary Of State, is seen alongside President George W. Bush.
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

“He lied, lied and lied,” said Maryam, a 51-year-old Iraqi writer and mother of two in northern Iraq who spoke on condition her last name not be used because one of her children is studying in the United States.

“He lied, and we are the ones who got stuck with never-ending wars,” she added.

Powell was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and oversaw the Persian Gulf War to exterminate the Iraqi Army in 1991, after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

However, the U.N. presentation Powell gave to justify their invasion of Iraq a decade later was what Iraqis are most fondly remembered. He portrayed Saddam as a significant global threat and possessed weapons-of mass destruction. Even a small amount of what he suggested could have been biological weapons. Powell had called Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons “a web of lies.” No WMD were ever found, however, and the speech was later derided as a low point in his career.

“I am saddened by the death of Colin Powell without being tried for his crimes in Iraq. It is… 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.

But in a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, Powell maintained that on balance, the U.S. “had a lot of successes” because “Iraq’s terrible dictator is gone.”

Saddam, who was in hiding in northern Iraq at the time of American forces’ capture in December 2003, was eventually executed by Iraqi authorities.

The insurgency that arose from U.S. occupation turned into sectarian violence, killing countless civilians. This war went on for far more time than was predicted by Bush’s administration. It eventually led to the formation of the Islamic State group. In 2011, Obama pulled U.S. troops from Iraq, but three years later sent advisors to the country after the Islamic State group had swept into Syria. They captured vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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.

Al-Jashami stated that he didn’t suffer any direct injuries, but that he still struggles with panic attacks and stress as a result growing up in a country ravaged by war and displacement and many years of terrorist bombings.

Aqeel al-Rubai, 42, who owns a clothes and cosmetics shop in Baghdad, said he doesn’t care if Powell regretted the faulty information he gave on WMD.

Al-Rubai who lost his cousin to the war also blames U.S.A for the death his father who suffered from a near-fatal heart attack after the U.S. invader.

“What does that remorse do for us? A whole country was destroyed, and we continue to pay the price,” he said. “But I say may God have mercy on him.’

Elsewhere, Powell was remembered as “a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity,” by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who backed the U.S. campaign and invasion.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that Powell was a “straight-talking foreign policy official” and a “trans-Atlantic bridge-builder.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington praised Powell for his “commitment to Israel and his deep personal connection to the Jewish community.”

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, said Powell was “a wonderful, moral man who was misled terribly in the context of the Iraq war before the Security Council.” Robinson heads The Elders, a group of retired world leaders.

Maryam, a northern Iraqi writer, rejects the notion that Powell might have been misled about Iraq.

“I don’t believe that,” she added. “And anyway, when lives are at stake, you do not have that luxury.”


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