One reporter recalls the U.S.-led invasion three years ago
March 20, 2003: The U.S. starts its military strike in Iraq. At that time I was a sub-editor of the Nepali language daily Space Time and my job was to write news and give instructions about the layout to a graphic designer. I was desperately looking for new information and news on wire services and on the Internet. However, I had not thought that the war would impact my personal life and my job.
We all thought that Iraq may any time fire its “weapon of mass destruction,” as claimed by the Bush administration. But no, not a single fighter plane flew, and it seemed the U.S won the war easily.
But that was not reality. A long-term insurgency has been seeded. Iraqis are facing civil war and terrorism all the time.
In August 2003, 12 Nepalese workers, who were there in search of jobs, were kidnapped by Ansar-Al Sunna, who brutally killed all of them. On Sept. 1, 2003, outraged by this incident, Nepalese took to the streets and attacked manpower agencies, mosques, Arabian embassies, and other Muslim places. This has been considered a “black day” for Nepal, a country known for religious harmony.
On the same day, my office – Space Time — owned by a Muslim, was attacked by some people. They looted and set fire to our office. Already facing financial difficulties, the management of Space Time decided to stop its publication and I, along with hundreds of my colleagues, lost my job. We are still owed three month’s salary.
This was the small example of how an incident on one corner of the planet may affect a person living in another corner of the planet.
While talking about the Iraq war, lots of Nepalese still remember that incident — the brutal murder of Nepalese workers and that infamous riot. Nepal officially supports the U.S. military action and even decided to let use of its airspace to the U.S. At that time, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was fighting against Maoist rebels and thought supporting the U.S. action would help him in this fight.
But a majority of Nepalese people did not like the way the Bush administration bypassed the U.N. Security Council and went on its own. The Nepalese press in its editorials voiced concern against this at that time.
Nepalese are caught in their own civil war and they care about themselves rather than Iraq. But still, they think that as in our own civil war, this war is unwinnable. It will only bring the deaths of many innocents.
Nepal is gearing up for decisive democracy movement protests and I have not heard any formal program to commemorate the third anniversary of the Iraq war. But many Nepalese think that the U.S. should pull its troops out of the region immediately.