Businessman fears for his family in Iraq

MOST nights Suffolk businessman Jim rings his sisters at home to find out how they are and how the world is treating them.But he isn't calling them in London or Birmingham, or even in America or Australia.

By Paul Geater

MOST nights Suffolk businessman Jim rings his sisters at home to find out how they are and how the world is treating them.

But he isn't calling them in London or Birmingham, or even in America or Australia. He's calling them in the family home in downtown Baghdad.

Jim – not his real name – has lived in Britain since he arrived here as a student 29 years ago.

Although he was born in Iraq, he's now a British citizen and has only returned to his homeland once since 1974 – when he visited his family three years ago.

He's following the build-up in tension very closely, of course, but now sees war as inevitable – a situation he regrets deeply.

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"With all the technology and skills in the hands of the SAS and the American special forces, I really would have thought it would be possible to send in a small team to get rid of Saddam Hussein," he said.

"But instead we're seeing the whole country invaded – and that will be much more dangerous."

Jim is more concerned about the aftermath of the war than the conflict itself.

"I don't think the Iraqi troops will fight much – they know they can't win and won't put up any resistance.

"But if the Americans and their allies are there for more than about a couple of weeks things could get difficult.

"There doesn't seem to be any firm plan for what happens afterwards. There are the Kurds in the north next to Turkey and other groups around the country.

"There has been talk of splitting the country into five, and that would be a recipe for civil war."

Jim phones Baghdad regularly.

"I can speak to my sisters and find out that they are all right, but we can't discuss the situation because all calls are monitored by the regime," he said.

Jim has little sympathy with the Iraqi leader. "I have no doubt that he has hidden weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Jim asked The Evening Star not to publish his real name. "There are a lot of Iraqi refugees in this country. I know they are mostly genuine, but there might be one of Saddam's agents in there," he said.

"And I have to protect my family in Iraq. I have two sisters out there and a brother and my father.

"I just hope things are soon sorted out – but I am very worried about what will happen if there is a long period of uncertainty," he said.

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