CAIRO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- It was far beyond Ali al-Saadi's imagination that the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which happened in a place far away from his hometown Iraq, would have brought about the most terrifying experience to him and his family.
As part of its efforts to unleash a global war on terrorism in response to the attacks, the United States invaded Iraq, leaving hundreds of thousands of people killed and towns and cities devastated, including the northern city of Mosul, al-Saadi's home.
"My house was destroyed, and I have a child who was disabled during the bombardment when my house fell on us," he said. The bombardment carried out by the U.S.-led coalition in 2016 and 2017 left the old city completely destroyed.
Al-Saadi is just one of the millions of people in the Middle East whose life has been turned into one tragedy after another following the so-called "War on Terror," which started 20 years ago.
SCARS OF WAR
During the past two decades, the wars and military actions carried out by the United States and its allies have unsettled much of the world, particularly the Middle East.
A Brown University study found that at least 800,000 people have died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen since the United States launched the War on Terror. That number only includes lives directly lost "through bombs and bullets" in major hotspots, according to the study.
In Iraq alone, 184,382 to 207,156 civilians were directly killed in war-related violence between the start of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and October 2019, the study said. At the same time, U.S. forces allegedly used rounds of depleted uranium in their battles across Iraq, posing hazards to the health of local people.
Moreover, the War on Terror has also turned tens of millions into refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 5.6 million people have fled Syria since 2011 while millions of others are displaced inside the country.
Instead of bringing about stability and reducing the levels of terrorism as promised, the War on Terror thrust the Middle East into greater violence, chaos and insecurity.
In Syria, the U.S. intervention was launched under the pretext of fighting radical groups such as the Islamic State. However, Syrian political expert Imad Salem said the U.S. existence in the region only brought about "destruction and catastrophes."
Muhammad Omari, another Syrian political expert, said terrorist threats still exist in Syria and terrorist groups are "covered by foreign powers," which constantly provide them with arms and gear to prolong their existence and further destabilize the country.
Omari said the frequency of terrorism and extremism were much lower before U.S. forces entered Syria than after.
Hashim al-Shamma, a researcher in politics at the Iraqi Center for Legal Development, said the United States created "a failed and conflicting state" in Iraq and its "democracy banner" had not achieved anything positive.
"Under the slogan of combating terrorism, the United States is trying to extend its control all over the world," al-Shamma said.
Experts believe that the War on Terror caused a spillover effect in some Middle Eastern countries.
Mostafa Amin, researcher on the affairs of terrorism and columnist at Egypt's Rosa El Youssef newspaper, said the United States had a role in "creating a state of massive chaos in the Middle East region" following the 9/11 attacks.
"The beginning was Afghanistan, then the chaos was transferred to Iraq, then Syria and then the rest of the Arab states in what was later called 'the Arab Spring,'" he said, adding that the results were the fall of governments and serious repercussions in the economic, political and social conditions inside those countries.
A sure conclusion, Salem said, is that the War on Terror has created instability, destruction and a lack of security in the Middle East.