November 24, 2015


'Americans saved my life': former refugees from Iraq perplexed by US fears : Displaced Kurds from the Persian Gulf war in 1991 say politicians' backlash against taking in Syrian refugees is a stark contrast to what they experienced (Sabrina Siddiqui, 11/21/15, The Guardian)

As one of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds displaced by the Persian Gulf war, Sindi knows firsthand the plight of refugees fleeing conflict and recalls as though it were yesterday the sense of desperation looming over temporary resettlement camps.

Sindi remembers the daily uncertainty confronted by his family when placed at a refugee camp lacking the most basic of resources. The image of food and supplies airdropped by American planes under Operation Provide Comfort stays with him to this day - it was what motivated Sindi to accept two deployments training and advising US troops after the country's invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"Americans saved my life," Sindi told the Guardian. "And so I worked with them and returned the favor."

After gaining US citizenship in 2006, he went on to spend four years in Iraq, from 2009 to 2012. There, Sindi served as an interpreter for the US military and in the security detail for vice-president Joe Biden and senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham during their trips to Erbil.

To Sindi, his story is about more than goodwill toward the country he has now called home for two decades. It's about the trust placed in him, a native of Zakho, Iraq, by the US government.

"I was a refugee, I came from nowhere, and I reached the point where I could be in a convoy with the vice-president of America in Iraq," Sindi said. [...]

Sindi is perplexed by the fears raised by American politicians over the vetting of Syrian refugees. If the goal is to defeat the Islamic State, he said, leaving refugees in a state of destitution with no options for their future will only exacerbate the cause.

"They live in miserable conditions, they're in the middle of nowhere in a tent for four years," Sindi said. "They just want to find a job and put their kids through school over here."

"If we leave them, they will be targets for terrorist organizations."

Posted by at November 24, 2015 1:36 PM