Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On Iraq

I haven't written about Iraq for a while... not because the novelty factor was gone, neither because the shock factor was not possible anymore but because Iraq has joined the other issues vyeing for attention. I have not read Riverbend for a while but this post brought my tears down and reminded me of a time before 2003 which many Iraqis are nostalgic about - almost another era and only 5 years ago...

"I had resigned myself to the fact that we were refugees. I read about refugees on the Internet daily… in the newspapers… hear about them on TV. I hear about the estimated 1.5 million plus Iraqi refugees in Syria and shake my head, never really considering myself or my family as one of them. After all, refugees are people who sleep in tents and have no potable water or plumbing, right? Refugees carry their belongings in bags instead of suitcases and they don’t have cell phones or Internet access, right? Grasping my passport in my hand like my life depended on it, with two extra months in Syria stamped inside, it hit me how wrong I was. We were all refugees. I was suddenly a number. No matter how wealthy or educated or comfortable, a refugee is a refugee. A refugee is someone who isn’t really welcome in any country- including their own... especially their own.[...] We live in an apartment building where two other Iraqis are renting. The people in the floor above us are a Christian family from northern Iraq who got chased out of their village by Peshmerga and the family on our floor is a Kurdish family who lost their home in Baghdad to militias and were waiting for immigration to Sweden or Switzerland or some such European refugee haven.

The first evening we arrived, exhausted, dragging suitcases behind us, morale a little bit bruised, the Kurdish family sent over their representative – a 9 year old boy missing two front teeth, holding a lopsided cake, “We’re Abu Mohammed’s house- across from you- mama says if you need anything, just ask- this is our number. Abu Dalia’s family live upstairs, this is their number. We’re all Iraqi too... Welcome to the building.”

I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003. "


Brave Heart said...

Sallam HL
Walhi i read this post before and exactly like u, this paragraph has a big emotional effect on me.

and this paragraph"It has taken me these last three months to work away certain habits I’d acquired in Iraq after the war. It’s funny how you learn to act a certain way and don’t even know you’re doing strange things- like avoiding people’s eyes in the street or crazily murmuring prayers to yourself when stuck in traffic"
it explained to me why and how certain people are reacting in bad way after 40 years of occupation

Gheriani said...

You're right, it's sad sad sad.

LoveLyH said...

it`s so sad ,what can we do for IraQ for Our brothers and sisters thier more then Praying.
everything have hiding meaning to allah..

Maya M said...

This is a touching testimony and a sad situation.
When you interview Bulgarians about our former dictator Todor Zhivkov, you will fairly often (possibly in more than 50% of cases) hear that the life in his time was very good. Yes, that same ruler who imprisoned people for jokes, changed people's names etc.
You will hear the same answer even from 10-year-olds. They don't remember his time but the proper (dis)information was fed to them by their grandmothers.
I know that it isn't fine to be occupied and that the Coalition forces in Iraq in the line of duty killed many innocent people (that awful term "collateral damage") and destroyed much property.
But I don't think they ever encouraged Shia Iraqis to go after Sunnis or Kurds or vice versa. So the conclusion about the "stolen unity" seems inaccurate to me. The sectarian hate must have been there, just awaiting the opportunity to unleash.
One of the bad sides of freedom is that it brings you face to face with yourself. And often you don't like what you see.

Highlander said...

Braveheart, Gheriani, LovelyH yes it is is sad and I'm melancholic lately....so I dont have much to add.

Highlander said...

Maya M thank you as well for a sensitive comment as for the sectarian hate it could have been put out- but the policy of occupation is always divide an conquer which is what makes it worse in my opinion.

a_akak said...

it is a sad truth which i think Iraqis are just coming to terms with and I feel very sorry for them and for Iraq as Iraq should be the greatest arab country for all of its people

I agree that the shock factor has faded away, day by day, we get use to the pictures and the news but Iraq will live with every heartbeat of every Iraq (Sunni, Shia or kurd)

Fe aman Allah

Benghazi Citizen said...

I read the post..One of the most touching i've ever regarding the matter...
I feel sad for Iraqi people..I feel sad for us arabs and non-arabs.
I feel sad for humanity..
Shia,sunni,kurds,arab,non-arab,..Does it really matter??
Shame on us...

Benghazi Citizen said...

It is really sad ..we don't think much of the suffering of our brothers and sisters in humanity...We watch TV,we feel sorry for a minute,we forget about it...The words of this iraqi was so touching,so vivd,so real,,,,so...SAD..
What a sad tragedy...
May God grant them peace

Maya M said...

There is an important difference between the Romans and the Americans. Romans could do whatever they wanted while Americans have to reckon with international and domestic public opinion which, for unclear reasons, regards "territorial unity" as a sacred cow. (USSR also didn't try "divide and conquer" after occupying Bulgaria.)
Sectarian tensions in Iraq were known before the 2003 invasion and, as far as I know, were one of the reasons why Saddam was left in place in 1991.
If Iraq had remain unified, this would make it an exception among multicultural oppressed countries moving to liberty. We know that when Britain granted India independence, the first things that happened were (1) deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims and (2) Muslims demanding a separate state.
In more recent time, there were three European multi-ethnic countries that moved away from totalitarian rule - Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and USSR. In all three, this led to their disintegration. And only in the former it proceeded in a civilized way. Now, Serbia is undergoing a second round of disintegration while Russia is trying to prevent it by doing genocide in Chechnya. (Contrary to what many think, Chechen war isn't about oil.)
The modern mantra is that diversity is beautiful. Maybe it is, but unfortunately it is contrary to human nature. People avoid it whenever possible. And when it exists, they need constant conditioning to tolerate it, and still any random event such as a crime with perpetrator and victim belonging to different groups can ignite tensions and send the community back to Square 1.
I, personally, think that while disintegration of Iraq would be a PR nightmare for Americans, it might be the best for Iraqis. At any rate, I would feel inconvenient if I have to look in the eyes an Iraqi Kurd and tell him that my people deserves its own state but his people doesn't, and because his Shia fellow countrymen have strange ideas about who should rule the country, he owes obedience to Muqtada Al-Sadr.

Curt from Houston said...

Sorry to hear about your recent problems H. I to am going through a difficult time right now.

I seem to have lost your email address so drop me a line at my new address and I will send you some pictures of my recent Wyoming trip. They tend to cheer me up when I get down lately.

Email me at: AndolinSojourn@yahoo.com