Baghdad Burning by Riverbend

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Beginning . . .
So this is the beginning for me, I guess. I never thought I’d start my own weblog . . . All I could think, every time I wanted to start one was “but who will read it?” I guess I’ve got nothing to lose . . . but I’m warning you—expect a lot of complaining and ranting. I looked for a “rantlog” but this is the best Google came up with.

A little bit about myself: I’m female, Iraqi, and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know. It’s all that matters these days anyway.
Riverbend posted by river @ 7:36 PM

Waking Up
Waking up anywhere in Iraq these days is a trial. It happens in one of two ways: either slowly, or with a jolt. The slow process works like this: you’re hanging in a place on the edge of consciousness, mentally grabbing at the fading fragments of a dream . . . something creeps up around, all over you—like a fog. A warm heavy fog. It’s the heat . . . 120 F on the cooler nights. Your eyes flutter open and they search the dark in dismay—the electricity has gone off. The ceiling fan is slowing down and you are now fully awake. Trying to sleep in the stifling heat is about as productive as trying to wish the ceiling fan into motion with your brain. Impossible.

The other way to wake up is to be jolted into reality with the sound of a gun-shot, explosion, or yelling. You sit up, horrified and panicked, any dream or nightmare shattered to oblivion. What can it be? A burglar? A gang of looters? An attack? A bomb? Or maybe it’s just an American midnight raid? posted by river @ 8:02 PM Monday, August 18, 2003

Another Day . . .

Normal day today. We were up at early morning, did the usual “around the house things,” you know—check if the water tank is full, try to determine when the electricity will be off, checked if there was enough cooking gas . . .
You know what really bugs me about posting on the internet, chat rooms or message boards? The first reaction (usually from Americans) is “You’re lying, you’re not Iraqi.” Why am I not Iraqi, well because, a. I have internet access (Iraqis have no internet), b. I know how to use the internet (Iraqis don’t know what computers are), and c. Iraqis don’t know how to speak English (I must be a Liberal). All that shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I see the troops in the streets and think, “So that’s what they thought of us before they occupied us . . . that may be what they think of us now.” How is it that we’re seen as another Afghanistan?

The best part of the last two days was watching tv yesterday—the latest news from our rotating presidential council: Jordan is trying to get Washington to hand Ahmad Al-Chalabi over to authorities in Amman!! That was great to watch . . . you know what? He’s my favorite out of the whole interim government hand-picked by Bremer. If Bremer has learned anything about the Iraqi people he’s been attempting to govern these last few months, he would hand Chalabi over to Jordanian authorities with a red ribbon around his neck (as a sign of good will). I haven’t seen anyone who likes the rat (and his buddy Qambar is even worse).

For those who don’t know, the interim governing council chosen by Bremer to “represent” the Iraqi people couldn’t decide which of the power-hungry freaks should rule Iraq, soooooo . . . Bremer decided that 3 people would govern (as temporary presidents) until the Americans could set up elections. The three people were Al-Hakim (as a representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution), Bahr Al-Uloom (another Shi’ite cleric), and Adnan Al-Pachichi. Naturally, the other members of the governing council objected . . . why should Iraq only have 3 presidents?! And the number became nine. Each of the nine (including Adnan Al-Pachichi, Ahmad Al-Chalabi, Al-Hakim, and various others) get to “rule” for a month. You know, Iraq just needs more instability—all we need is a new president each month . . . anyway, our current “Flavor of the Month” is Ibraheim Al-Jaffari, who is the head of the infamous Al-Daawa Party (responsible for various bombings in Iraq before and during the Saddam era). I’ll talk more about him later . . .

The funny thing is that the 9 get to govern Iraq alphabetically (according to the Arabic alphabet). The only reason for this seems to be that Bremer found them all equally ingratiating, dishonest, and incompetent so he was hard-pressed to make a decision. The way it will work is that each one will have their chance at governing Iraq, and at the end of the nine-month period, Bremer will decide which one of them best represents American assets in the region and he will become “The Chosen One.” They’ll set up some fake elections and “The Chosen One” will magically be rewarded with . . . Iraq. I just hope Adnan Al-Pachichi makes it long enough to get his chance on the occupation throne—he looks ready to fall over any minute.
email me: posted by river @ 9:12 PM Tuesday, August 19, 2003

How is it possible to wake up tired? It feels like I’ve been struggling in my sleep . . . struggling with nightmares, struggling with fears . . . struggling to listen for gunshots or tanks. I’m just so tired today. It’s not the sort of “tired” where I want to sleep—it’s the sort of tired where I just want to completely shut down . . . put myself on standby, if you will. I think everyone feels that way lately.

Today a child was killed in Anbar, a governorate northwest of Baghdad. His name was Omar Jassim and he was no more than 10 years old, maybe 11. Does anyone hear of that? Does it matter anymore? Do they show that on Fox News or CNN? He was killed during an American raid—no one knows why. His family is devastated—nothing was taken from the house because nothing was found in the house. It was just one of those raids. People are terrified of the raids. You never know what will happen—who might be shot, who might react wrong—what exactly the wrong reaction might be . . . Things are getting stolen too—gold, watches, money (dollars) . . . That’s not to say ALL the troops steal—that’s unfair. It’s like saying all of Iraq was out there looting. But it really is difficult having to worry about looters, murderers, gangs, militias, and now American troops. I know, I know—someone is saying, “You ungrateful Iraqis! They are doing this for YOU . . . the raids are for YOU!” But the truth is, the raids only accomplish one thing: they act as a constant reminder that we are under occupation, we are not independent, we are not free, we are not liberated. We are no longer safe in our own homes—everything now belongs to someone else.

I can’t see the future at this point, or maybe I don’t choose to see it. Maybe we’re just blocking it out like a bad memory or premonition. Eventually it will creep up on you, though. We’re living, this moment, the future we were afraid to contemplate 6 months ago. It’s like trying to find your way out of a nightmare. I just wish they would take the oil and go . . .
email me: posted by river @ 3:50 PM