Iraqis Say Colin Powell 'Lied' for 2003 U.S. Invasion, Resulting in 'Never-Ending Wars'

On the day of Colin Powell's death, Iraqis are remembering him not as an American hero but as the man who went before the U.N. Security Council as U.S. Secretary of State in 2003 to urge for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The 84-year-old's death Monday triggered long-held resentments in Iraq toward the former military general and diplomat. Powell was one of several Bush administration officials Iraqis considered responsible for the U.S.-orchestrated military intervention that upended lives and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Powell's 2003 testimony was instrumental in a war that has burdened Iraqis and others in the Middle East.

"He lied, lied and lied," said Maryam, a 51-year-old Iraqi writer and mother of two in northern Iraq who spoke on condition her last name not be used because one of her children is studying in the United States.

"He lied, and we are the ones who got stuck with never-ending wars," she added.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Colin Powell
Many Iraqis still hold resentment toward former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell after he helped urge the invasion of the country in 2003. In this image released on May 28 General Colin Powell (Retired) on stage during the Capital Concerts' "National Memorial Day Concert" in Washington, D.C. Paul Morigi/Capital Concerts

As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell oversaw the Persian Gulf war to oust the Iraqi army in 1991 after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

But Iraqis remember Powell more for his U.N. presentation justifying the invasion of their country more than a decade later by casting Saddam as a major global threat who possessed weapons of mass destruction, even displaying a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon. Powell had called Iraq's claims that it had no such weapons "a web of lies." No WMD were ever found, however, and the speech was later derided as a low point in his career.

"I am saddened by the death of Colin Powell without being tried for his crimes in Iraq. But I am sure that the court of God will be waiting for him," tweeted Muntadher al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who vented his outrage at the U.S. by throwing his shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a 2008 news conference in Baghdad.

In 2011, Powell told Al Jazeera he regretted providing misleading intelligence that led the U.S. invasion, calling it a " blot on my record." He said a lot of sources cited by the intelligence community were wrong.

But in a in a 2012 interview with the Associated Press, Powell maintained that on balance, the U.S. "had a lot of successes" because "Iraq's terrible dictator is gone."

Saddam was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in northern Iraq in December 2003 and later executed by the Iraqi government.

But the insurgency that emerged from the U.S. occupation grew into deadly sectarian violence that killed countless Iraqi civilians, and the war dragged on far longer than had been predicted by the Bush administration and eventually helped give rise to the Islamic State group. President Barack Obama pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011 but sent advisers back in three years later after the Islamic State group swept in from Syria and captured large swaths of both countries.

Powell's U.N. testimony "resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis. This blood is on his hands," said Muayad al-Jashami, a 37-year old Iraqi who works with nongovernmental organizations.

While he did not suffer direct losses, al-Jashami said he continues to struggle with stress and panic attacks as a result of growing up with war, displacement, and years of terrorist bombings in the country.

Aqeel al-Rubai, 42, who owns a clothes and cosmetics shop in Baghdad, said he doesn't care if Powell regretted the faulty information he gave on WMD.

Al-Rubai, who lost his cousin in the war, also blames the U.S. for the death of his father, who had a close call during the sectarian blood-letting that followed the U.S. invasion, and later had a fatal heart attack.

"What does that remorse do for us? A whole country was destroyed, and we continue to pay the price," he said. "But I say may God have mercy on him."

Elsewhere, Powell was remembered as "a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity," by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who backed the U.S. campaign and invasion.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that Powell was a "straight-talking foreign policy official" and a "trans-Atlantic bridge-builder."

The Israeli Embassy in Washington praised Powell for his "commitment to Israel and his deep personal connection to the Jewish community."

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, said Powell was "a wonderful, moral man who was misled terribly in the context of the Iraq war before the Security Council." Robinson heads The Elders, a group of retired world leaders.