I despised Saddam’s police state, but ISIS would not exist under his rule

After Iraq invaded Kuwait, 24 years ago last month, the United States destroyed most of Iraq’s infrastructure during the Persian Gulf War. Bridges were bombed, along with power stations, railroads, dams and oil refineries…

Prices became inflated, and everything cost more. Before the war, you could buy a flat of eggs for two Iraqi dinars. By 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq again, those eggs cost several thousand dinars. (My monthly paycheck after I graduated from pharmacy school was 50,000 dinars a month.)

People’s values changed after 1990, too. Robberies increased. Houses were even built differently. There used to be low fences separating one house from another. But after the war, people built high fences and covered their windows with bars. Our home was robbed three times over 10 years. If you parked your car by the street — even for just three minutes — you risked your hubcaps being stolen.

Gradually, people also began turning to religion as a result of all the hardships. Religion changed the country: more censorship, more rules, more rigidity. Alcohol, which was once widely accepted, was frowned upon. Mainstream TV shows and movies — even cartoons — were censored to remove kissing scenes, partial nudity and other elements viewed as immoral.