Iraq's Red Crescent relief organization found its own way to mark the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday by announcing that it had sent a $1 million "thank you" donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The sum, transferred by wire on Sunday, amounts to 20 percent of the organization's annual budget.
"I wish we could have a billion dollars to give," Said Hakki, the organization's president, said by telephone from Baghdad. "Even then, it is not enough to show our appreciation for what the U.S. has done for Iraq and is still doing."
The donation was made with the approval of the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and is thought to mark the first time that Iraq has sent aid to the United States.
Haydar al-Abadi, a senior adviser to the prime minister, said in a separate telephone interview that he was worried that the gesture -- though noble -- could prompt complaints that the money should have been spent on the country's own emergencies.
But Mr. Hakki was adamant.
"Giving thanks is an Iraqi tradition as well as an American one. This is the minimum we could do after the Americans shed their blood in our country, mixing their blood with ours," he said.
He said the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein was "a blessing from God, and the U.S. was His tool."
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