Iraqis residing in Japan expressed concern Tuesday for their loved ones back home who face imminent war following the 48-hour ultimatum issued by U.S. President George W. Bush.
“I am worried about my family,” said Mohammed Kassab, 50, who has lived in Japan for almost 20 years. “But frankly, there is nothing I can do.”
Kassab’s wife and children live in Japan, as do a younger brother and other relatives, but his mother and other siblings, as well as many friends, are in Iraq.
He said he is worried about what might happen to his relatives there, but he also has mixed feelings about the possible hostilities.
“Perhaps life will improve in the ‘after war’ with the lifting of economic sanctions,” Kassab said. “Under the sanctions, salaries are low and living conditions are terrible.”
Kidher Dia, 35, who came to Japan in 1998, said he has been watching TV reports on Iraq and has had trouble sleeping because he is so worried about his family in Iraq. His mother and seven siblings live in Babylon, some 80 km south of Baghdad.
Dia said he lost an older brother in the Iran-Iraq war, which began in 1980 when he was 12 years old. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the military tank factory he worked at was bombed and nearly 400 of his fellow workers were killed.
“I am fed up with such killing,” Dia said.
Salim Mohammd, 37, who has been living in Japan for 11 years, said he brought his mother and younger sister to Japan in January when tensions heightened due to the U.N. weapons inspections. He speaks on the phone every day with his other siblings still in Iraq.
Mohammd said his relatives in Iraq have stocked up on food, water and kerosene in preparation for the war. His older brother said in a recent phone call, “Now we can only wait.”
“I would like to continue making the calls up until the last minute before the outbreak of war,” Mohammd said, concerned that phone calls will not get through once the U.S-led attacks begin.
Bush gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Iraq on Monday night, warning President Saddam Hussein that he must go into exile or face a U.S.-led invasion. Hussein has vowed not to leave.
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