Monday, January 03, 2005

Friday, December 24th, 2004
Good evening…
I am still in Amman, the weather is cold and rainy…I miss Baghdad, and my heart fills with sadness whenever I remember her, or mention her name. I shall get back to her as soon as possible, by GOD’s will. I can imagine the feelings of those who left her in spite of themselves, in fear for their lives and belongings. I cannot ask every one to be heroes…. people have their reasons.
I went to Damascus, then got back yesterday to Amman. My life in Baghdad was depressing and suffocating. Since my car was robbed last August, my movements were restricted; I go to work in the morning with a private driver and his car, whom I sometimes call for necessary outings, like going to the doctor, a meeting, or such. I cancelled a lot of items from the program of my life; no friends, no relatives, no going out at all, even the hairdresser I no longer visited, for the security situation was depressing, not encouraging.
Now in Amman, I am at a loss where to go, and how to spend the time, at a public library, at the market, with friends, at the Internet café, or traveling to Cairo or Damascus… I always have a surplus of time, and the will to start new projects.
As if the world is opening its wide doors for me, to fly with big wings, fearing nothing…
It seems the whole world lives this way…except Iraq. For fear, terror, and fighting seems to have built nests there, along with death, destruction, and devastation…. Every hour, every day.
I can understand the stupidity and narrow vision of those who write to me and criticize me, because in their viewpoint I am gloomy, depressed, and look upon the events with a pessimistic eye.
Of course, how could that who lives in security and welfare, understand the language of the other, who lives under terror, fear, and death. He will tell the other selfishly, cruelly: I am tired of listening to you, why don’t you shut up?
Of course he would be annoyed, wanting happy news to listen to.
And where would the happy news come from, for those living among death, fear, and debris??
Today I went to the hairdresser, where I cut my hair and had it done, had a manicure for my nails, and talked to a Philippines woman working there, I asked her about Philippines, its people and their lives, then looked around at the women who were there, all ages, and beauty levels…they talked, laughed, and some smoked… life goes on normally…. Like it goes anywhere in the world.
At the streets, and in hotels, there are advertisements about the New Year’s parties, and who sings where, and at the newspapers, there are advertisements about nights out, the restaurants, and the prices of tickets…
Huh? And who cares to what is happening in Iraq??
People are panting behind their daily bread, then seek some happy times they spend in a party at a restaurant or hotel hall, to forget the worries of work and life. Even in America, some grief for a friend or relative who died in the Iraq war, but most people are busy buying feast presents, and arranging the invitations for dinner, thinking of who to spend the evening with.
Except Iraq…and its people. These are the only ones consumed by sadness, fear, and worries, of what has gone past, and what is to come.
Where are the feasts, and where are they to it??
Muslims and Christians alike…find no taste or smell of feasts in Iraq.
So, here is the year drawing near its end…
And we all hope the next would bring peace and quiet to Iraq, Amen.
In Syria and Jordan I saw thousands of Iraqis living, filling the streets and markets…speaking loudly, as they usually do. I recognize them, then move on silently, without comment…
The Iraqis has moved away from their country, scattered at the regions of earth. Waiting for peace to settle down in their country, so they would go back to it. Whenever I met someone on the street, and wanted to ask him about a place in Damascus, the person would turn out to be an Iraqi, and would apologize that he doesn’t know…I would be seized with laughter, I asked none but an Iraqi?
Well then, how long have you been here? I ask…
Some months now; he says …and I would be silent.
I do not want to open the pages of memories, and sadness, so I say goodbye, and move on my way.
I found Damascus a beautiful city, worthy of visiting, having a lot in common with Baghdad. It carries the Old Arabian City style, which didn’t change much. Most buildings are old, and there is always an old mosque between the tall buildings, with a beautiful and distinguished architectural style. They use colored stone in the old buildings. Horizontal lines of brown, pink or black, so the building looks like it has strips horizontally, making it a beautiful, special architectural monument.
I shall put some photos of Damascus on the site, by the Will of GOD.
I visited the old markets, like Al-Hameediya, and Medhat Bahsa Markets, they displayed beautiful embroidered Bed sheets, Tapestries, and Jhalabiyas (The traditional Women Dress), and various folk traditional crafts, most of which are made of beautiful, colored wood. Inside the labyrinths of the markets I saw old buildings called “the Khan”, meaning; the hotel, of days gone long ago. These were old, very beautiful buildings, built since the days of the Ottomans, of colored stone for the inner walls, arches and domes for the roofs; the domes were ornamented, colored, beautiful, and amazing. The old buildings had an eastern design; a big courtyard, a garden, a fountain, then a lot of rooms around the court.
I visited an old castle of a man called “Asa’ad Basha”, at the Ottomans time, the house is called now “the Al-A’adum Castle”, which is the name of his owner’s family. It has been turned into a heritage museum, with wax statues featuring the people’s daily life at that time; a room for students and school, a room for the bride and her wardrobe, a hall for the folk garments, a room for the weapons of the old days, a bath room, inside of which there are more heated rooms, with steam, and a massage area, then, a room for the traditional industries. The visit carried very much fun…
There were some old wooden boxes (which they used in the old days for storage, instead of closets), to store clothes, and valuable possessions, some old furniture, inlaid with mother of pearl, beautiful, strange, and amazing…
People in the old days were more dedicated in manufacturing things, more skilled, more honest and clear with each other. Now, most things are manufactured by machines, people have changed a lot…in their understanding of life, and their relationships with each other. Perhaps, if these people ever came back to life, and we could have met them, they would envy us for the modern technologies, and we would envy them for the simplicity of their life, its beauty and honesty.
I visited the Umayyad Mosque; it has a unique building style, for there are ornaments on the column’s capitals, with colored drawings and shapes unfamiliar in Arabic Mosques, then I remembered that some time before Islam it was a church, then the Muslims turned it into a mosque.
The court was wide, clean, and beautiful, full of pigeons…in Iraq, too, the courts of the old mosques are full of pigeons. I loved the scene, and took many photographs. In the mosque’s courts, and their pigeons, I see a comforting security I missed for a long time now.
I do wish security and comfort would come back to Iraq, and the Iraqis.
Whenever I met a group of people, men and women, and I talked to them, in Amman, Cairo, or Damascus, there was always the same question, the same sadness: How is Iraq?
May GOD help you…. May GOD break every unjust leader.
And sadness grows in my heart, I smile.
And I say: When this nation awakes from its slumber, and its sleep… then all the good will come back to Iraq and Palestine.
It is the ordeal of all the Arabs, not just Iraq alone.
In front of the hotel I was in, in Damascus, there was the Russian Cultural Center…
How long was it since I last saw something Russian??
I suppose Syria is one of the few Arab countries that maintain a good and strong relation with Russia. And this, perhaps, is the reason of Bush’s aggressiveness against Syria. For whenever an American tripped over a stone in Iraq, Bush said that a terrorist, who came from Syria, has put that stone in the way. Ha…ha…ha.
By GOD, don’t you see with me how much the western media is behaving with a foolishness that is both funny, and exposed?
Some explosions happen in Baghdad, or in the American camps in Iraq, and within the hour, Bush would announce that the terrorists came from Syria.
Well then, how did you know? Did you catch them, and they confessed? Was there some kind of radar that spotted them?
Or the charges were ready, without an argument.
I don’t know how this amazing media thinks.
Anyway, the Cultural Center has a cafeteria, an internet station, a hall displaying beautiful paintings of Syrian artists, then, there is a theater hall. I was at the internet station when I heard the sounds of singing and clapping.
I asked the young man who was in charge of the station, and he said; there was a performance, with singers from Russia.
I asked him; were there any tickets? No, he said, it’s free…
I asked; and how can I understand what they were saying? He said: no problem, just watch and listen, for it is a matter of feelings.
I laughed, and found this quite a logical idea.
I went into the hall. There was a big crowd, ladies and men with blond hair, who look very much the Russian, and there were a lot of Arabs. I sat down, and listened.
There was an old woman, blond, and very elegant, playing the piano…the theater itself was very wide, with beautiful, shiny, embroidered red curtains. The atmosphere was very bourgeois….huh...ha...ha… anyway, there was a young man, long haired, broad shouldered, who was singing, moaning, and becoming impressed… it seems like a very emotional song.
I liked the game, and started imagining the words, what is he telling his sweetheart? Why did you leave me? I can no longer sleep at night… is hard to be separated.
Ha…ha. I do think he is moving in such a circle. All humans are alike, and their problems are similar.
So, I sympathized with him, and clapped for him at the end of the song. Then, a new singer came, and announced the name of his song in Arabic: the Far or Shining Star… I kept watching him, imagining the words of his emotional song. I laughed inside of me…
The American lived most of his life seeing Russia as an enemy state, its people as stony hearted monsters, and spies. Huh. In the American movies, this was the shape of the Russian character.
But today, I see ordinary people, like us. Clean, polite, singing soft, romantic songs.
Who is putting the fences between the people, and planting hatred among them???
There is a dumb, lying media who is doing all this, and there are some foolish victims from all sides, who believe.
I was amazed at the process of controlling the security at the cities I visited, I mean, Cairo and Damascus… there were countless numbers of traffic police, and national guards in all the streets, in front of the state offices, museums, banks, embassies, and ambassador’s houses… and I felt sorry for the security conditions in Iraq, and the level it has deteriorated to.
In Egypt, the population counts around 70 to 80 millions. Cairo alone has about 8 millions…perhaps more. You can not imagine how many banks I have seen, and how many state offices? All have armed guards standing in front of its doors…with military cars and pick-ups gathering there, equipped by wireless communication devices, and in constant contact with other centers. There is always a searching procedure in all museums, hotels, and public places, a search of people and bags, with censors like those at airports.
We all wonder in Iraq, couldn’t the American government join efforts with the Iraqi interim government to raise the number of guards and policemen, and equip them with modern devices, to cut down the numbers of mishaps?
I have seen the Egyptian Military Police use dogs to smell all cars entering the tourist areas.
The whole of Iraq counts perhaps 25 millions, with Baghdad housing some 4 millions, and nobody can invent a way of raising the performance level, to improve the security situation??
There is either some dumb thinking, or an intention, most people say: America wants Iraq this way, if they wanted to improve the security, they wouldn’t have been helpless…what did Saddam Hussein have more than them, to control the security? For the trapped cars are still exploding every day, in much the same way, with no one to stop them. And assaults against the Iraqi Police and their stations are taking place daily, and with the same cabbage-headed way, no one is putting an end to them.
There is a clear negligence. Who is responsible, and who should be put to blame?
We are tired of accusations against Syria, Iran, and the filtering Arabs, this is the reasoning of the unable….to fabricate insults and charges against people, to give reasons for his own failure.
Where are the modern technologies for protecting people, policemen, guards, state offices, and religious sites?? What has America offered to us to protect us?
Nothing, despite the passage of time, and the repetition of catastrophes.
There are some American soldiers who are asking questions, embarrassing their leaders with these questions. About the military vehicles, and their inability to hold against daily accidents, and explosions. About not reinforcing the Iraqi police and army with any clear devices to protect them from attacks.
There is negligence, I do not know whether intentional or not.
To destroy the Iraqi police and army, gives America a reason to stay indefinitely in Iraq. We want the proof that America carries good intentions, and wants to get out of Iraq quickly. This will take place by the existence of a strong Iraqi army and police force, whom people can trust, and who would carry the responsibility of providing security and peace to the Iraqis.
There is a question that should be directed to the American administration: what are your priorities in Iraq?
They would answer: Controlling security.
And what steps have you taken during the last months to implement this important item?
We want answers…we all want to hear the answers.
And there are some who want to start a civil war between the Iraqis, especially between the Sunni and Shi’aat.
It didn’t work between the Muslims and Christians. Nor between the Arabs and Kurds. So, the last card remains, between the Sunni and Shi’aat.
When we are at the shop, and some people come in, Iraqis, somehow the talk would run around to the topics of the new government, the Sunni, the Shi’aat, and the conflict would almost start to loom ahead, then I usually stop, cut the talk with a laugh, and say: well, well, that is enough, no Sunni, and no Shi’aat, we are Iraqis, and Muslims, right?
I usually get the answer: Right. We all laugh, and that would be the end of it.
I do hope the Iraqis would remain with these kind hearts, good intentions, and love for each other, and so be able to cross this crises.
When I went to receive the medicines sent by Raid, as donations for the hospitals around Fallujah, to treat the local residents, and the families that fled the hell of battles, I had the driver with me, who was an old man, a resident of Fallujah, and I said to him: we should participate in the coming elections.
He said: No, we do not want to participate.
Why? I asked.
He answered: Because the coming government would be on the side of America.
I said: who said so? Perhaps some honest Iraqis will come, so, why judge in advance? Would you elect me, if I my name would be in the list?
He said: yes, I would elect you.
I said: so, we should form a new, national Iraqi government, one who loves the Iraqis, and remove the occupation out of the country. It would be a mixture of all Iraqis…Arabs and Kurds, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shi’aat.
He said: No, no Shi’aats, we do not want them.
I got angry, asking him: who taught you to say this? I am a Shi’aat, and I am going to donate medicine to the people of Fallujah, and you are Sunnies, so, why should I care??
He laughed and said: you are a good woman, may GOD bless you.
Then I continued: all these are stories made up by our enemies, to disrupt our unity, no Sunni, and no Shi’aat, I beleive we are Iraqis, brothers, right?
Right, he said.
I said: then, the coming government shall be a mixture of all Iraqis.
He said: Listen, you are educated, so you understand, but I am not, and all you say is true... so, I'll do whatever you say. I laughed a lot, because of his honesty and naivety, wishing that all the people could have the ability to admitt ignorance, and the mistake of evaluating matters as simply as this.
I wish the coming Iraqi elections would be a successful experiance...but, how do we, as Iraqis, distinguish between its success, and failure?
If it brought new, clean, honest leaderships, who love the Iraqis, and dedicate themselves to the task of improving their lives, then, it is a successful experiance, without a doubt. But if it brought old faces, well known for their support of America, then, it is a disaster, for the fighting shall continue, and so shall the occupation, and we shall need four more years of waiting, pain, and patiance, to try again to change the faces, towards a better result.
The leaders of America say they will not leave Iraq, untill the Iraqi (Government) ask them to, not the Iraqi (People)...and this is a desaster.
Who shall garantee the integrity and honesty of the elections? who shall garantee that America will give its consent to a new Iraqi government that will ask them to leave Iraq immediatly??
I have fears, and worries of what is to come. If the list of Allawi, Al-Yaweer, and the old, traditionl Kurdish parties won...then matters will remain very much the if we did not come, nor go. The fighting and confrontaions shall remain the same. I do pray to GOD that new faces shall come, with a new vision, and less inclination towards the west, I mean, towards America...but it is a far away dream.
Why did America wage the war against Saddam in the first place, lossing all that they lost, offering casualities? only to have a new Iraqi government asking them to leave Iraq??
Huh...Ha...Ha. this is merely a naive, rosey dream...that will not be fulfilled now. But perhaps, after a long time, it will be realized...after nations would wake up from their slumber, and support each other to settle peace in the whole world. And perhaps, among these people who will put their hands in each others', there will be a part of the Iraqi people, and a part of the American people, those who believe in the freedom of nations, and their right to live without the gaurdianship of foreign countries.
Yes, I believe there is a part of the American people who love Iraq, and the Iraqis, and want the best of good to us, critisizing the policy of their leaders.
These are the best friends to the Iraqis, who will help them gain their freedom once more, build their country the way they want, and be satisfied with, without hurting the others.
Translated by May/ Baghdad.

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