Wednesday, April 21, 2004

April 21

I woke up before seven in the morning….the sound of birds turned my attention to the tranquility. I haven’t heard the sound of birds for such a long time. I remembered the Dutch journalist who came to visit us a week ago, who said that he woke up to the sound of tanks and helicopters in the morning…and then after a few hours he heard the sound of birds….I laughed and told myself, look at this bourgeoisie man - we have forgotten this, romantic sages from antiquity.

“What are the Americans doing here?” He said, confused, “Either they are stupid….Or they don’t want to use the path of dialogue with Iraqis.” That day the events of Falluja were on fire, day after day…And in the south, was Muqtada al-Sadr, and in my head I was just as confused as he was.

Last night I stayed awake reading a letter from an American soldier, Joe. It resembled most of the lovely letters I receive from America. It carried within it good intentions and apologies over what has happened. And good wishes that what ever may come, perhaps it will be better. And I thank him for his wishes and I respect that. But it’s not enough, in order to go beyond what has happened. There must be some review of past mistakes in order to enter a new phase of building trust, and a new Iraq.

First of all, how were the rioters and looters treated? Yes, the satellite channels broadcasted pictures of looters while they were stealing and laughing immediately after Baghdad fell. We in our houses were crying…And Iraqi émigrés who saw these awful pictures were crying. And we were all saying, “No, these people are not Iraqis. These are ignorant criminals.” But the media agencies were enjoying themselves, broadcasting pictures that hurt the reputation of Iraqis. As if they were saying from the first day: Look - How do you expect these people to rule themselves?

This was the second shock we faced, after the very first shock, when Baghdad fell with betrayal. I want to emphasize this word, betrayal. Baghdad fell in a cheap way, with no heroism in it. Those who sold Baghdad and those who bought it.

The soldiers opened the doors of the presidential palaces and told looters to enter. At the door. And the cameras came, photographing awful, embarrassing pictures, showing it to the American administration. Rumsfeld sees them and laughs, I can’t believe how many flower vases they stole from the palace! As if every camera recorded the looters carrying the same flower vases and laughing….while we stayed in our houses crying over a country that has fallen. Criminals standing in front of cameras, stealing. But the high class criminals went into Baghdad museum, and the culture of the ancient Iraqis…away from the cameras.

The national library was burnt, the university libraries were burnt, and the rare historical documents – who did this???

And who is responsible???

The looters also???

They were groups of destructive people, hateful of Iraq, hateful of its people and history. They entered Iraq before or after the Occupying powers, with or without their knowledge. But this is what happened.

And after months these ancient relics and documents appeared in European countries, and others….who transported them to there??? Don’t tell me the flower vase looters. And at that time, we all saw the tanks, guarding the Oil Ministry. While most of the other ministries were burnt down or destroyed. We haven’t forgotten. The wounds are still pulsing with pain.

Then there came the phase of killing Iraqis in the streets. Stealing their cars or kidnapping and demanding money. And there are no Iraqi police, no security and no army, because everything was destroyed. We used to make excuses for the American soldiers - saying they are soldiers in the squares of war, but they are not police - and what did the Administration do to resolve this problem???

All we do is read subtitles on the American and Arab media that the Americans are studying the possibility of sending organized forces to ensure security in Iraq and nothing is sent. It’s as if they are looking at us while we are dying a slow death. Exactly like an injured person in the emergency room of a hospital, trying to breath, and speak of the accident he’s just had. And the doctor thinks and waits, and organizes a meeting for the doctors, in the future. It’s not important, because this issue is not a priority, and perhaps, if the injured man dies, then the problem would be resolved completely. This is how we feel the American administration is treating us.

And we ask ourselves night and day, did they plan for this war? And along came the soldiers and the airplanes and the tanks and the maps and the military plans. But they don’t know what to do for the next phase? Who believes that???

These days the American congress has a series of commissions, and during that, senior officials from Bush’s administration, including Paul Wolfowitz –the brains behind this war – or so he’s called – and the assistant to the Secretary of State, Mark Grossman, and General Richard Myers – I hope the commissions are transparent and honest – so we and the Americans can know who is behind this lack of responsibility. And to find out, what was wrong – the planning, or the implementation?

And there’ll be another commission, with the officials and experts responsible for rebuilding Iraq – where has it gone, and what has happened to it?

And the plans to calm down the rebellion in Falluja and in the south. Yes, there must be some time to stop, to appoint responsibility, and to ask. There were major, glaring mistakes made – and its smell reached the American people- there even over the sea. And there are no more opportunities for lies and cover-ups, as they have been doing for the past months. If the commission issues an admission of mistakes made, this will be a positive step for a new start. It will be more honest, it will do something. But if it’s a cover up, and insists that things must end as they have began, then this is a disaster, and the upcoming shocks will be worse. And that’s what Iraqis don’t want.

I want to complete my answer to the soldier, Joe, “the Opposition groups and their militias entered with the Occupying Forces.” This caused, without a doubt, the campaign of assassinations and score settling. In this lawless, new state. And the governing council which was imposed on the people – representatives known to the American administration, and unknown – and unwanted by Iraqis. And the new administrative law of the temporary state, which is causing so much debate and arguments and fights. Ever new law issued has its problems, in addition to the issue of the Sunnis and Shiites, and Islam, and what rules will rule us. We have been herded into useless, endless debates….which divide and don’t unite, which make delays and don’t make progress.

And Iraqi oil has began to make an impact on the world, even as we are without work and opportunities. Business owners don’t have the bread to even place in the ovens of their empty houses. Hundreds and thousands of unemployed, these are always the fire wood of any revolution or rebellion.

No plans, no clear, transparent, open projects to talk to a people about….Is Bremmer working alone? Who gives him the green light? These politics are clear: depressing and destructive to the dreams of Iraqis.

And I want to turn the American administration’s attention to an important thing that was said some days ago. Iraqis aren’t stupid. And they cannot be dealt with upon that basis. Because during all the years of Saddam Hussein, we learnt how to live to governments and deceive. We learnt all the means and methods, and we will accept no more that people will deceive us. Who respects us, we will respect and trust them, and we will be loyal and sincere to them. And who ever hurts us or disrespects us - we will turn their lives into hell. And the days that passed witnessed that.

The dialogue is open to return trust to the two sides. And there is a way to talk, and it must remain open, like lines of communications or bridges to bridge distances, to explain mysterious events. Because ignorance in the other causes enmity, and ignorant people are enemies, or or that’s how the saying goes.

I hope these upcoming days come with peace for Iraq and Iraqis, and for everybody who loves them and wants to help them.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Good Evening.

The hour right now is four in the afternoon in Baghdad.

It’s sunny and a little hot.

Yesterday the weather was cool and it rained during the day

And it was tiring and depressing

And I wasn’t able to think or write

I was feeling like I had nothing to write

And even the process of thinking was tiring and there’s no point to it

After the events of Falluja and the surrounding of Najaf and the assassination of Rantissi

As if there are devils who surround the world who determinedly carry out their evil will

And the destruction of beautiful dreams with events

On a small patch of this earth

Which is drowning in sadness and chaos

Or is it that others live happily and we are the ones, beyond place and time?

I decided from yesterday morning to go to the exchange and put in a complaint

To fix phone that’s been broken for three days in the house

And I returned home depressed, because there’s nobody to speak to there

It’s all chaos and derision of citizen’s complaints

And then the garbage truck went by very quickly and didn’t stop in front of the house because it didn’t see me

Because it’s prepared to offer services, if they see people inside who can pay bribes.

Responsibility has gone to hell - along with the city’s cleanliness

The world is drowning in corruption and nobody cares about anything

And here, there’s nothing called government anymore

Which would make employees in the service industry more vigilant about carrying out their duties

The streets are crowded and there’s not enough traffic police to lighten up the jams

And everything is tiring and depressing and makes you wish you wish if only I could disappear from the map of this earth

You and your thoughts and your sadness

Because nobody tries and nobody cares

And everybody drowns in their own world

And there’s no ability to absorb somebody else’s problems or their sadness

As if they say to each other

Go to hell

My problems are enough for me

That’s how we’ve become here

It’s a hard, difficult project and you are forced to complete it

And there’s nowhere to run

Face your pain alone daily

And learn how to deal with it in your own way

And you keep going, swimming against the tide of this life,

Which flows without mercy

With you, or without you

These letters that reach me lighten my sadness

And I put some of them on the page

I enjoy it, when I read letters, when I read different points of view

And I love to understand how others think, because that brings distance closer

And the letters that say that you are not in need of more bombs and tanks. Or confused soldiers, or those who fire indiscriminately. Those letters make me smile and I say within myself, Thank you, this is true,

And letters that talk about women in black sad clothing

And it’s so true so I also put it on the page

And also the letter of the American soldier who is now in Iraq

I will put it up with his permission

I am with him in everything

And he asks like me, and does not have an answer for his questions

Yes I am like him and like many others like him; We want to be friends, Iraqis and Americans

And to use our energies for this;

But right now the first responsibility lies with the American government

It is the one that is able to plant these principles and apply them with Iraqis

…To listen to them politely, with requests of the people and their representatives….and respect them, and not to keep them ignorant, and not to call them names of enemies, and not to put in place representatives that America knows and is relaxed with, but that the people don’t want and are not comfortable with. As the saying goes:

A harmful Lord can be beneficial

….That these events have been harmful and painful for both sides

but perhaps it will be a lesson for both sides, to be more cautious in facing off the other

and more wanting in understanding and bringing us closer

to build an Iraq that has security and peace

and to build new relations that have respect for the other

and respect and trust need both sides – not one side

just like love –

it cannot continue if it loses the spirit of cooperation

will we succeed?

I hope so from all my heart

Out of respect for those who have died from both sides

To take the methods of peace instead of a warring dialogue

So that no more will fall

If only the prophet Mohammad was alive, so he would know that the people can be merciful to each other. And if only the prophet Jesus was alive to see how people can love each other. And if only the earth would return to be a beautiful, safe place without wars. If only, if only, if only

But who is listening? And who cares? For the evil work on their plans and their conspiracies. And the innocent are busy with their sadness and their wishes.

And God above smiles in his highness

This is the way of the world


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