Iraqi Native Longs For Liberation Of Her Homeland

Sundus Strickland says the people of Iraq are desperate and fearful.

The 31 year old now lives in Gautier with her husband and two daughters. She left her native Iraq following the first Gulf War.

The brutal accounts of Saddam Hussein's violent regime hit close to home with this young woman. She's witnessed the brutality in her home country firsthand.

Strickland is counting on coalition troops to liberate her people.

"When we call our family there and we know that they're so desperate and they're dying slowly every day and they have no future and they have no life, that's how we know that we support this war. Because we don't want Saddam there anymore," said Sundus Strickland, speaking freely in the living room of her Jackson County home.

The freedom she enjoys in America is in stark contrast to the dictatorship and fear that permeate Iraq.

"I mean everything is scary. If you don't have Saddam's picture on your wall in your house, you'll be executed. You have to have his picture. Even if you like him or not," she explained.

Images of war in Iraq nudge painful memories to the surface. One of her brothers grew weary of forced military service to Saddam during the war against Iran. He was 21 years old and refused to fight.

"He decided not to go. And they shot him. They took him out and shot him. And he's not the only one. Thousands of people were shot just because they didn't want to go and fight for Saddam," she said.

Strickland worries about her mother and other family still in Iraq. She finally convinced her mom to leave their home in Baghdad and seek safety in a smaller village.

"I told her just take the kids and leave. And she couldn't because she's worried because in '91 when we left our house and came back, half our house was robbed and our furniture was gone. People take advantage of this. They start breaking into houses," she said.

Strickland says lessons from that earlier war are also affecting attitudes among the Iraqis this time around. Fear runs deep.

"After what happened in 1991 after the Americans had to leave and don't liberate the Iraqi people in Iraq. He executed almost two hundred fifty thousand people. And they cannot risk it anymore, Strickland said.

She watches the war and hopes for a liberated Iraq. She's confident the future holds promise, something she never experienced under Saddam Hussein.