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The view from here

AMMAN // The flood of Iraqis into Jordan is crowding classrooms, straining the health care system and draining the limited water supply here. It is blamed for driving up housing costs and -- although it is illegal for most Iraqis to work here -- creating more competition for jobs.

The influx is seen generally as another burden on a developing nation in which the people are struggling, as in other places, with the rising costs of fuel, food and other necessities.

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But one Jordanian I met today says the local population isn't holding it against the refugees.

"I don't think you're going to find Jordanians angry at Iraqis," Neime Ali, a local laborer, told me. "You'll find Jordanians angry about what happened in Iraq. Jordanians blame the Americans, because the Americans led the Iraqis to the situation that they are in."I heard a fair amount of anger about the war this afternoon at a gathering for Iraqis here. Several were careful to clarify that they weren't angry at Americans, but at the government and its policies in their homeland.

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"Bush came in and destroyed the country," said Wafa Ibrahim, 48, who worked as a chemical engineer in Iraq before the war. "He wanted the Iraqis to fight each other. He wanted to destroy our history."

Ibrahim is one of several I have met here who see the war as an American grab for oil.

"Why do they want to destroy Iraq?" she asked. "If you want the petrol, take the petrol and let us live."

Ali agreed.

"America should be honest when it says it wants to spread democracy," he said. "There is no democracy. There is no security. We have refugees."

There remains an appreciation for Americans. Nadia Abbas, a 39-year-old mother of six, said American officials gave her family identity papers that allowed them to get out of Iraq without trouble. Saadoun Hassan, a 66-year-old former Finance Ministry official, described how American soldiers helped to foil an attempt by the Mahdi Army to kidnap him.

"The American people must understand that we don't hate them," Ibrahim said. "We hate the policy of the American government."

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