Iraqi translators live in terror as the West withdraws

World

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

Chloe Cornish

“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...

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