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A decade after Gulf War, Iraq endures
From Jane Arraf
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Ten years later, the Amaryia shelter in Baghdad, Iraq, remains a powerful symbol of the Gulf War.
The United States said the bunker was a military command and control center. Iraq denied it. Whatever the case, 400 civilians were killed when U.S. missiles slammed into it.
A decade later, the pain and the controversy endure.
Also enduring is the country's leader, Saddam Hussein. But he is more than a symbol. He is a powerful force who has survived three major U.S.-led attacks since the Gulf War, as well as bombings and plots to depose him.
At 63, Saddam mocks rumors that he is ill.
In a taped television address marking the 10th anniversary of the conflict, Saddam declared a "victory over enemies" of the Arab world during the Gulf War.
"Iraq has triumphed over the enemies of the (Arab) nation and over its enemies," he said.
The country has rebuilt
As soon as the Gulf War dust settled and the bodies were buried, Iraq began rebuilding.
Almost every building was repaired, every bridge restored. And now, despite the longest-lasting United Nations sanctions ever imposed, Iraq once again is one of the world's largest oil producers.
"Our people, technicians and engineers have done a magnificent job, which was really impossible, we believed, before the war," said Amer Mohammed Rasheed, the Iraqi oil minister.
Recycling, re-creating and surviving
There is a saying: "What can't be changed must be endured." And Iraqis, heirs to the oldest civilization in the world, are masters of endurance.
They've endured by recycling and re-creating. Many have endured by turning to religion.
Some have endured by selling almost everything precious to them.
But the decade since the Gulf War has taken a toll. UNICEF says the infant mortality rate has doubled. And there's talk of a "lost generation" as children drop out of school.
Iraq has become a nation where doctors earn more money driving taxis than practicing medicine.
Arms inspectors left two years ago
Though the country has endured, many items are in short supply -- optimism being just one of them.
For the Iraqi government, the trade-off is worth it. The last U.N. weapons inspectors left two years ago and have not returned.
No one expected the sanctions to last this long. But no matter what comes next, Iraqis have little choice but to endure.
Tenth anniversary of the Gulf War: A look back
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