Friday, January 09, 2004

Thursday Dec 31, 2003
So this is the last day of the year, here we are living it and close to saying goodbye to it. In the morning the streets were jammed and we hardly were able to get to the store using side roads that were very busy as well. Police, road blocks, news about bombs planted in streets, this is how the last day in Baghdad was spent. I imagine the other capitals around the world. I imagine people shopping in stores and celebrating in their homes and here we are sneaking into our homes to hide in our pain and depression. We are creatures that have forgotten how to be joyful and happy.
When I passed through Baghdad’s sad streets, I wondered to myself, why are the houses, hospitals, schools and even the state buildings so old and run down? Supposedly, we a rich country. Where did the oil money go? We are an oil rich country, right?
Look at all our neighboring Persian Gulf states, look how their people live. They live very comfortably in lavish life styles. The latest technologies have reached them and they don’t worry about war or sanctions. Why are we buried in this backwardness and oppression? Why are we so distant from the rest of the world? As if a huge gulf has separated us from the rest of the nations on planet earth. People here always say, America brought Saddam Hussein into power so that he would destroy us. America supported him. All Iraqi attempts to get rid of him had failed. Then when America wanted to get rid of him, they came here to occupy Iraq. This was their goal for decades. Whoever sees the army and tanks filling Iraq’s cities would say “who is going to make them leave?”. You can’t believe that they will leave in a year or two they will probably say we are staying here forever.

Saddam plundered the state’s wealth from oil exports in order to wage silly wars for delusional reasons. The results of these wars has been nothing but destruction and ruin. Then came his war against Kuwait, they, were our friends and neighbors. He found silly reasons again to wage a war and who was going to stand up to him? We found out later what happened to people that stood up to him. He surrounded himself with a chorus of hypocrites that clap to anything he says and have no problem abusing the poor helpless people. The rest of the world kept distancing itself from us more and more, especially after the catastrophe of the sanctions. We became like Josef sitting in the darkness of the bottom of the well after his brothers threw him there. After the wars and the beginning of the sanctions, the man started to put his frustrations into wasting money on lavish palaces that he didn’t live in and in some case not even visited. I used to see trucks in the evening full of young men wearing wretched clothing. These young men would sit there in the trucks sticking one to the other. I would ask, who are these young men? The answer was, construction workers, working on construction for the palace of the president. I would remember his famous _expression “O great nation of Iraq”. I would say, so these are the sons of the great nation of Iraq, building a palace for the great president. I wanted to cry from the my sadness on our state and our misery. But I would find some self respect and keep quiet. Really, I wonder who brought him to destroy us and wipe dignity from our life and faces. Could he have done this on his own? Or were there external powers that aided him and pressured him towards all this foolishness?
We were living in Amman, Jordan when he attacked Kuwait. I felt anger and pain. I said he is leading us to another hell after the end of the war with Iran. My coworker said, why are you upset he is not doing anything to benefit himself, this will all benefit the people. I was very surprised by what he said. What benefit could come from oppressing other people and killing them? I didn’t argue with him. I thought maybe I am stupid and I don’t have the same long term vision. After the war on Kuwait and the sanctions, many Iraqi immigrated abroad because they lost hope that things would get better. The countries of the world got our intellectuals, authors, artists, poets, doctors and engineers. Only very few stayed behind. So much so that the Iraqi university had a shortage of teaching staff. Good thing new graduates were able to fill the empty positions. It felt as if the state was saying to the people “good bye and don’t come back”, unless you are willing to join the clapping chorus! The majority of the people that stayed behind was desperate, another group of people were benefiting from the situation. These had no problem participating in blood sucking of the poor and week and clapping and cheering for the president. During this time I returned to Iraq. My family disagreed with my move and they said “What brought you here you crazy woman?” I laughed and said “God wanted me to come and he arranged the right circumstances in order for me to come, so don’t try to persuade me otherwise”. I came back to a destroyed Iraq and destroyed people. All our values have eroded and all the people that were known symbols of nationalism have died. The education system was corrupted, full of bribes. The health sector was ignored. The poor die as result of shortage of medicine and nobody cares about it. The rich were getting richer and poor were getting poorer. The rich old neighborhoods became truly old and poor. The people started to sell their furniture and then gradually they start selling the necessities, even the fan, the air conditioning were sold during the summer just so that they could live Oh! What life this is? The retired governmental employees, army soldiers and school teachers became an underclass living on memories of the past, and feeling sorry for the present and the future. A new class emerged that has money, runs business and the rights to import and export goods. This class of people were controlling the lives of everybody else. You would look at them and ask what qualifications do these people have, what degrees or skills? and the answer would be nothing. He is the friend of Mr. Udai or a relative of Mr. President may god preserve him, Oh! What misery have you lived in, Iraqis? I keep asking did you participate in destroying your own lives? Or should we place the responsibility on that class of people that kept sucking everybody’s blood with no end until god’s anger came on us?

[translation provided by]

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