Monday, January 05, 2004

Thursday, December 25th 2003:
There are some positive aspects to this war. Most houses now have satellite
dishes installed that receive transmission from all over the world. Baghdad
is full of Internet cafes and mobile phone dealerships and we now find brand
new cars of all models roaming the streets of the city. There are also many
foreigners now here and their presence, whether as part of NGOs or foreign
media and press, has broken the barriers we had with the outside world and
we have found a common language for dialogue after I had thought such a
language was impossible to find! I have discovered that there are many
ordinary people among them and others that are intellectual. When the
American forces first entered into Baghdad they were kinder and cooperative
with us, but now because of the security situation they have become more
hostile which has made people resentful of their presence, particularly
after many Iraqis were shot dead by Americans by accident because the
soldier freaked out! And of course who will bring this or that soldier to
justice? These kinds of accidents brew a sense of resentment towards the
Americans. At night we hear explosions that go on for hours and nobody knows
what’s going on! We also hear helicopters flying around and the sound of
heavy tanks rumbling by breaking the silence of the night and shaking the
houses like miniature earthquakes. People are drowning in their sorrows
struggling to find the daily bread. Petrol, oil and gasoline are scarce and
very expensive while even during the long hard years of the sanctions they
were dirt cheap. The sadness and sorrow is not specifically due to these
things but this is an indication of the state of nation that has been thrown
into chaos and turmoil. And the future is an unknown. The people who live
here have tired of wars and sanctions and politics and political parties and
they wonder who guarantees to them that the new faces around are more
sincere than those that have passed and fallen?
The common language on the street is not one of forgiveness and national
dialogue, rather it is a language of vengeance and settling of old vendettas
precisely like what the Baathists used to do to the communists when they
came into power. People here need a long time to learn to respect other
peoples’ opinions without resorting to violence or vengeance. This is a
learning process and will not come of a decision issued by one party or
The status quo so far is pretty bleak. Those who are used to being paid off
by Government employees still go on with their practice without any
accountability, and anyone with no connections or money cannot get anything
done in public institutions.
A customer came into the store wanting to sell some merchandise. I asked him
where he obtained the goods and he asked if I wanted the truth. I laughed
and said I did, so he replies that it’s stolen from Government buildings.
Why did you steal it I ask? Because Saddam executed my uncle when he was in
the army he replies. So I ask what have you gained from stealing? Did your
uncle come back to life? Or was he pleased with your act and entered heaven
happy? The man smiled and replied, so what do I do? I refrained from
answering because as long as this man has this mentality how can we find
common language for dialogue? The man left the store, then came back and
asked me to help him, advise your muslim brother where I can sell the goods
he asked. That was the final straw for me and I completely lost it. What
Islam do you refer to you fool? What Islamic principles have you not
massacred? If I help you out then I am a collaborator in your stupid act!
The incident upset me for several days, and reinforced my conviction that
these people not only need a Government and constitution, they also need to
be reminded of basic principles that have disappeared with the collapse of
everything else.

Translated By: Candide

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