My Two Presidents, Saddam Hussein and Barack Hussein Obama

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It was one evening in 1979, when I found out that my president was Saddam Hussein. I was not given a choice or power of opinion. Nobody cared if I said yes or no. This is the way Arabs elect their presidents, either through a coup or by familial succession. In all Arab countries the President must be Muslim because Muslims cannot be ruled by non-believers. Qualifications are not important either, as most politicians in that region have no academic degree.

The way of rule was simple yet treacherous. Shut up and obey your leader, if you object then you will spend the rest of your life in a remote cell . They will not only cut you down to pieces but go after your family, friends, and even your neighbors who have no connection to you.

I was fortunate to exit Iraq in 1989. This was after serving five years in the Iraqi military during the Iraq-Iran war. Iraq’s future was dismal before and after my leave. War erupted yet again in the region by an international coalition against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. This was then followed by 13 years of brutal sanctions that took a devastating impact on the innocent civilians of Iraq. Finally Operation Iraqi freedom removed my former President but at a very high cost. Iraq is now in shambles in which fundamental Islamic rule now wields much greater power than ever before. Iraq is destroyed, millions have died and there is no trace of light unless a dramatic shift is taken to reform the mindset and thinking of the Iraqi people and Arabs in general. This was the land that I left behind.

I now find myself in a very different environment. I now have a new president, Barack Hussein Obama. This time I chose my president, I was given a voice and ability to choose a message that gave my family hope. I looked at a ballot and with the most pure embodiment of freedom, I picked my president without fear. This is a time where I can be involved, where my opinions and actions are used to rebuild this great nation. I never felt this way in the 33 years I spent in Iraq.

Thank you America for your gift of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My hope is that President Obama’s message of hope and change can echo to the Arab nations. Where people in the Middle East finally rise up and demand the same freedom to fight peacefully for their human rights. I seek a change where non-Muslims living in the region are no longer forced to leave their homeland like the Christians of Iraq. I long to see a free election with powerful voices leading the people, a transition without blood, and an Iraq that embraces democracy. I want my brothers, relatives, and friends who still live in Iraq to have the same choices as I have here in America
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