Having read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article "I'm sorry, but I was wrong to support the war in Afghanistan" (24 August), I would stress that the gravest mistake was to attack the country in October 2001.
I was working in Qatar at the time of the twin towers attack; for the next three weeks, westerners got a lot of sympathy from Muslims in the Middle East. I recall being stopped in the street by a middle-aged Arab and his wife: "We are so sorry about the American attack," they said. "So sorry."
During that time I hoped that the sabre-rattling American administration, with its frontman Bush, would climb down from its threats of revenge. However, vengeance it was to be; and immediately the first bombers went in, the atmosphere changed. Westerners were spat upon in the street, taxis refused to pick some of us up, and two Scandinavians were stabbed in the suq – mistaken for Americans. The American school had to be defended with tanks.
At a time when the west, and primarily the US, could have garnered sympathy and even support from the vast majority of Muslims world-wide, it chose to go down a path which has wreaked the damage we are now seeing, in both poor beleaguered Afghanistan and in Iraq.