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    Dr Peter Parry

    In 2005, not long after the 7/7 London Underground bombings, I was working in a short term locum in the UK. I was staying in doctors’ quarters at the hospital and flat sharing with an Iraqi surgeon. One night I had dinner with him and two of his surgeon friends – a Libyan and a Syrian.

    The topic turned to the whole Middle East Iraq war and Islamist terrorism. The 3 of them made it clear they believed the invasion by The West was for oil and furthermore the peace was so hopelessly secured it seemed almost deliberate to cause need for Western military presence to control oil into the foreseeable future. I recall the Iraqi talking about the looting and lack of protection at the museum of antiquities whereas American troops secured the oil facilities.

    They said that living under Saddam had been very oppressive, but that the war had made life many times worse. The Libyan and Syrian also asserted that life under Gaddafi or Assad’s rule was quite comfortable as long as one didn’t criticise the government too overtly. They said it was preferable to have strongman secular rulers like Gaddafi and Assad to a likely alternative of anarchy with Islamist fundamentalist opposition groups. They said more about Bush’s links to Saudi Arabia etc. They were extremely cynical about “freedom and democracy” motives of the Western powers.

    It was an illuminating dinner. As the Westerner at the table I was quite defensive of The West at the time. A decade of mayhem and horror later I reflect more deeply on what they said.


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