Iraqi translators live in terror as the West withdraws
The interpreters, who worked for UK and US forces, fear they are an easy target for Iran-backed militias
“Jim” has spent 17 years close to danger. An Iraqi interpreter for a rotating cast of British and American troops and security companies, his work in deadly conflicts has earned him commemorative pins, recommendation letters and distinctly English vowels.
A new threat makes the 44-year-old weep with fear for his family and ask that even the Anglicised version of his name be disguised. Jim and other Iraqi interpreters live in terror of the Iran-backed Shia militias who are baying to avenge Qassem Soleimani, the powerful Iranian general, and his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were assassinated in Baghdad in January.
Cycles of violence have made life for Iraqis abhorrently hazardous since the US-led invasion of 2003. Soleimani’s assassination brought fresh chaos for the translators, with Ashab al-Kahf, a relatively new Shia militia formation, making a veiled threat against them last month...