An inside look at Iraq

by back2dafront 0 Replies latest jw friends

  • back2dafront

    This is a weblog kept by an American currently in Iraq - here's part of it:

    Yesterday, the 29th, began with my awaking to the
    reaction of Bush's State of the Union Address. I had
    originally intended to join others in the group in
    watching the Address at Al-Jazeera's bureau at 5am. It
    was easy to figure what would be said. I slept in. As
    I reached the hotel lobby after waking, I ran into
    Joneed. "It was the closest thing to a declaration of
    war, without declaring war," he described it.

    Mary, another member of the group who stayed up to
    watch the speech gave an even more ominous tone. She
    explained that as she saw it, because Bush implied the
    US would attack unilaterally, the attack would
    certainly come without warning. "If he is doing it
    alone, why would he warn anyone who might oppose it?"
    she reasoned.

    For the first time in my entire stay here, my stomach
    bottomed out.

    I really could just be walking down the street to find
    a 2,000lb JDAM bomb on top of me without warning. I
    always presumed that there would be a zero hour, to
    allow for last minute preparations. It gave me pause
    (as I suppose it would anyone, the moment they entered
    this country...) I presume for now that the window of
    safety at least extends to February 5, when Powell
    addresses the UN Security Council. Plenty of time to
    buy some water.

    For the rest of the morning, we acquired a text of
    Bush's speech and proceeded to laugh at its content.
    Yet most people clearly were simply sickened by it.
    Notions of Bush?s administration caring for all life,
    pursuing liberty, and feeding the Iraqi people become
    stark jokes to me now. Not like they ever weren't
    before, but it seems apparent that if Bush's speech
    writer could spend just half a day in the slums of
    Baghdad, the world could change.

    We were to take part next in a demonstration at Al
    Mansour Pediatric Hospital organized by the Greek
    branch of Medicines du Monde. The immediate response
    to Bush in Baghdad was to be thrusting in his face
    images of those he is willing to kill. Unfortunately,
    the logistical end broke down, and while we showed up
    to the hospital, we were unable to find the
    demonstration ? perhaps due to the numerous hospitals
    situated in the large complex. I went on my own to ask
    around the area (normally a minder is needed to even
    visit a hospital), asking along the way if anyone had
    seen a wayward group of Greeks. At one point I
    mistaken for being a participant in a seminar, and was
    ushered into a medical lecture in Arabic.

    The day was salvaged by a return to Al Bayt Al Iraqi,
    the arts and crafts gallery/house where we had been a
    few days before. Here I met Naira, an elegant and
    articulate Iraqi woman in her 80s. She studied
    religious philosophy at the American University in
    Beirut, and her children and other relatives lived
    around the world. With a great-uncle who was an
    Ottoman Pasha that played a key role in the 1908 Young
    Turk rebellion, she came from a rather distinguished
    family. While most of her descendents were Turks
    involved in politics, she was proud that her father
    was a farm owner instead (who then had to sell most of
    it with the land reforms after Iraq?s Ba?ath
    revolution). "I am through with politics," she
    asserted. "I connect with people by understanding

    Naira gave me a critical lesson in Iraqi identity, one
    that I had little pondered before. Westerners like to
    think of Iraq in terms of its oppressed Kurdish
    minority in the north (most of whom live in total
    autonomy now) and the Shia majority that live under
    Sunni rule in the central and southern regions. While
    this cookie-cutter regionalism works for people like
    Bush, Naira had a different perspective. "I am more
    Iraqi than Arab," she whispered to me, jokingly afraid
    that the hostess, Amal, would take offense. As Naira
    is part Turkish, Kurdish, Persian and Arab, she is
    content with comparing Iraq with the sort of melting
    pot of America, to a degree. "They think there are
    just Kurds in the north and the Shia in the south?
    These people are everywhere," she explained.

    Dana, of our group at one point asked her of her
    secret to her youthful old age. "I never go to sleep
    hating anyone," Naira promptly stated. "Even those who
    would harm me - I never end a day with a grudge."

    At around 7pm, the owner and hostess invited us to
    attend a short presentation on architecture. "You will
    see, we Iraqis are not all hospitals and sick people,"
    Amal said as she introduced Dr. Sahar Il-Kassi. Dr.
    Kassi, a short, balding permissive man, offered us a
    slide show of his work. It was only a ways into the 3D
    graphical renditions of his recent plans that we
    understood just how significant he was. With award
    winning designs in Germany and elsewhere, he had just
    finished designing almost a dozen university
    buildings, mostly in the city of Kufa.

    Dr. Kassi's premise was a "blend of the old and the
    new," where he mixed classical Arabic and Sumerian
    styles with contemporary design. Frank Lloyd Wright
    was one of his major inspirations, and many of his
    houses greatly reflect that. With his impressive
    university plans, most already in construction stages,
    the dual-concepts came across with modern white
    functional structures emerging through classical
    facades, sometimes literally.

    Such works, which I would perhaps take only nominal
    interest in elsewhere, strike a strong chord in Iraq
    for me. Daily it becomes more and more apparent that
    this is a nation used to being on the cutting edge of
    the developing world and well infused with
    contemporary thought. It is as if a class of college
    students were forced to repeat the third-grade. Such
    potential sits here screaming for the opportunity to
    join the world community.

    There's a ton more - take a look.

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