Iraqi translator speaks about Army experiences

Iraqi translator Humala Aqrawee, who works for the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, addressed two dozen students in the Marvin Center Wednesday night.

At the event, organized by sophomore Stan Dai and senior Cassandra Waite, Aqrawee thanked U.S. soldiers for their support in Iraq. She also stressed that troops motivate the Iraqi people to defeat international terrorists.

“The Baath party encouraged division and conflict,” said Aqrawee, a Kurd whose brother was killed by Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and sister was killed by terrorists. “People who opposed them were neutralized.”

Aqrawee, who attends meetings with Iraqi leaders, sometimes enters serious fighting with American commandos to communicate with Iraqi citizens. She speaks Arabic and two dialects of Kurdish.

“Wherever there is combat or meetings, fun. I go there,” she said.

After speaking for about 10 minutes on her personal experience, Aqrawee said media portrayals of a worsening situation in Iraq are inaccurate.

“If it is getting worse, why are 25 percent of the ministers female? If the economy is so bad, how come we can buy satellites?” she said in response to a question by sophomore Josh Schrier about accurate media perspectives. “We have free media, with weekly and daily newspapers.”

Aqrawee encouraged students to read the Web pages of each of the troop divisions in Iraq for more information.

“Don’t get the picture according to the media. Get it from what you see,” she said. “When my sister got killed, your media said the translator for the 101st got killed.”

While expressing hope about Iraq’s future, the translator also said that foreign terrorists and former Baath Party members are the biggest threat to security in the war-torn nation.

“We have bad neighbors,” Aqrawee said. “You have Mexico and Canada, we have Syria and Iran who are sending terrorists.”

She also looked ahead to Iraq’s elections in January and said the Iraqi people would accept the nation’s next democratically elected leader.

After the event, junior Lauren O’Leary said she found Aqrawee’s comments insightful.

“I was glad to have perspectives of people who had been there and lived under Saddam. They’re so effusive with praise,” she said. “Even conservative media doesn’t show this view.”

Dai, who organizes events to spread awareness of democracy and terrorism on campus, said Aqrawee has an impressive resume. Dai and Waite are fellows with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“She follows the troops around in face-to-face negotiations and combat raids,” he said. “She’s got guts.”

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