Four years ago, Mr.George W. Bush decided to change the lives of 25 million people, permanently. I will tell you how I lived and saw these long, probably the longest, four years.
When the war started, we had strange feelings towards it. We wanted Saddam to go, but we did not want our country to be invaded. Iraqis have resisted the invasions for thousands of years. I just could not live with the idea that American troops will be wandering around in our lovely Baghdad. I promise you I will write a series of articles about the war, but now is just not the time.
After the occupation of Baghdad, I could not believe the looting that happened. The American as well as the Arabic news channels made it look like all the Iraqis are merely thieves. No one focused on the loyal and honest state employees who kept working during all the days of war, the bakeries that remained open all the time, the brave doctors that remained in the hospitals away from their own families, and more and more of the bright sides of the Iraqi people. All we could see or hear in the news was the looting and bank robberies. The thing with all the people all around the world is that they forget, or they act as if they forgot. No one remembered that Saddam let go few thousands of thieves few weeks before the war. He even let go the HIV infected people who were detained in a remote hospital in “Haswa” about 20Km west of Baghdad.
The first year of occupation, as compared to the next three years, was heaven. The attacks were concentrated on the occupants’ troops only. And the only fear you have on the street is that when the American troops show up in the street, there is a great possibility that the will be hit. And when they are hit, they respond in rapid fire all over the place with no distinguishing between anyone. Shops used to open until 9 or 10pm. I used to spend most of my time in ‘Abu-Nu’as St.’ and walk to a friend’s house in Karrada after 10pm. Schools were open and the students were real students going to schools to learn. The electricity had its ups and downs, but on average, we would have 2 hours of electricity out of 6. The water was cut for at least 2 days a week. But we were living. What I mean by ‘we were living’ is that we were doing our best to adapt with the horrible way of living. I can not tend to forget that Iraq is the richest country in the world.
At the end of the first year of occupation and the start of the second year, attacks began to move in another direction. All people working with the American troops became targets. And gradually during the year, government officials became targets. And by government officials I don’t mean the ministers that the occupation brought, or the governing council. I mean the small officials that have no huge group of bodyguards or fancy cars terrorizing the people passing by them. The attacks against the American troops began to hurt Iraqis. The bombed cars started killing dozens of Iraqis while ‘injuring’ one or two American soldiers. Attacks of Al-Qaida and other parties started to target the new Iraqi law enforcement troops. The Iraqi police, by the end of the year, became the primary target of attacks. Shops started to close up at 8 and 7pm, according to the area. Some areas ended up being extremely dangerous for the daily attacks conducted there. Places like Adhamiya, Amirya, Dawra, and Haifa St. became war zones. The electricity became worse. On average we had one to one and a half hours out of six. The water was out for about 3 to 4 days a week. Of course, the prices of everything started to rise. This was due to the lack of electricity which costed the merchants extra money for the generators and fuel. Oh the fuel. It took us about 4 to 6 hours to get benzene for the cars and generators. And we were adapting again.
During the third year, things started to collapse rapidly. I had so many near death experiences. I was there in the explosion of a bombed car. I got caught in the middle of cross fire twice. I witnessed three roadside bombs. Few more things happened that I consider negligible. In the third year, and after two really near death experiences, I decided to leave. I could not take it anymore. And my family was very worried about me because I am always out of the house. So, I left to Jordan. And until now, I am still in Jordan. The last time I visited Baghdad was about 15 months ago.
The attacks now started targeting Iraqi people. This is because Iran and Al-Qaida agreed on eliminating the Iraqis. Iran started to convince the Shiite that the have had enough of Sunnis. Iran convinced the Shiite that all Sunnis are either with Al-Qaida or at least have some sympathy with them. Iran started to make the attacks on Iraqis look like on Shiite people only. And Al-Qaida responded by announcing that Shiite are as much as an enemy as the Americans. And that started the snow ball. Things started falling apart very quickly. Sectarian violence started to rise on the surface more clearly.
It really hurts me to write these words. It’s just so sad to see all this harmony of the people who lived together for thousands of years falling apart like that. Life used to be easier. And love was in the air. But now, the only thing in the air is bullets. And the smell of roses I used to enjoy in our garden everyday was replaced with the pure smell of blood.
Starting from February, 2006, when the two shrines in Samarra were bombarded, the end had started. Sectarian violence was taken to the peek. And it has come to a point were you don’t need a reason to be killed. Your name is adequate to get you into trouble. And sometimes, death becomes your least worries.
I can’t just write about how the electricity was or the shops were opened or not. It is only death that I can remember during the last two years. Thousands of people died because no one said no. No one was man enough to think. Is this what we really want to end up to?
Its just so hard to put down in word all the frustration, anger, and agony I feel right now.
I am sorry I can’t go on.