Daily Life in Iraq
"the weather is hot..and the electricity is bad. the program is that it goes for 2 hours ON, and 4 hours OFF. the cars are waiting since morning in front of petrol stations."Iraqi Spirit:--
"[A] friend ... looked at me and said:Raed Jarrar:--
A: I’m sure you follow current events as much as I do
A: haven’t you noticed how in every conversation that comes up, there are 3 words that are being used interchangeably regardless of the issue?
O: And what are they?
A: Freedom, Democracy, and Terror. For example the media ask a question about WMD’s and all you could hear is blah,blah,blah, freedom, blah,blah,blah,blah, democracy, blah,blah,blah,blah terrorism. Or another example for instance about AbuGhraib, the sound coming out of the politicians is blah,blah,blah, democracy, blah,blah,blah,blah, terrorism, blah,blah,blah,blah freedom ... people are being brainwashed and cowed into over simplification of issues."
"So “they” selected our president and prime minister in a small meeting, But they couldn’t even announce the place of their meeting!!! Haha! What a great strong authority! Hiding in a dark smelly shelter someplace in the “green zone”, and announcing fake governments … People from the new Iraqi government don’t have the power to guarantee their personal safety! How are they supposed to rule a countryRiverbending:--
"Hot. It's hot, hot, hot, hot. The weather is almost stifling now. The air is heavy and dry with heat. By early noon, it's almost too hot to go outside. For every two hours of electricity, we have four hours of no electricity in our area- and several other areas. The problem now is that the generators in many areas are starting to break down due to constant use and the bad quality of the fuel. It's a big problem and it promises to grow as the summer progresses. I have spent the last two days ruminating the political situation and... washing the roof. While the two activities are very different, they do share one thing in common- the roof, and political situation, are both a mess."
Daily Life in Iraq
"it shouldn’t be so traffic jam in Baghdad, but it is today, with a very hot weather and imagine how it is to drive long distances…….. Any way what I noticed for the few passed days that we have many many check points by IPs in all over Baghdad and they are started new procedures that we even forgot about for about a year now. They are stopping cars without license plates and stopping imported cars with license plates from UAE or Jordan if its being drove not during ministries working hours."A.Y.S.:--
"Inspite of all the events and hard time we are passing through due to those extremists and terrorists, many officials and teachers ( like me!) Obtained new furniture, new electric equipments and other things.. We neglected our house for many years, we couldn’t do anything to repair it because of the lack of money, but now we did it up, it is repaired completely, painted, furnished with nice curtains and new chandeliers.. The view became so lovely that a person feels very relaxed and comfortable.. We also planted several kinds of flowers and plants that made the garden so beautiful."Nabil:--
"For me as 17 years old, I don't like this way of life because I am now in the summer vacation and I don't have anything to do no studying no exams so what you are going to do…Here you are free but things that you like to do you can't do it there is no electricity you cant be online on the net you can not play on LAN with your friends and if you want to go hanging with your friends the weather make you feel so bad because it is very hot outside and inside too because there is no electricity and if you ignore all these things you will be afraid of getting robbed or got shoot when you will be down on the streets on the other side the dirty people who they made you feel disgust just when you see them and see how they look and at most they will pick on you because you look clean and healthy and if they see you have a mobile or a car or a gold watch at once they will make a gang and come to you to steal these things and if you refused you will fell died at the same time if there is a girl with you like a (sister or a girlfriend) they will took her and rape her and you will never see her again and if you tried to stop them again you will fell died so this is a simple life for a 17 years old and I always wait for the electricity to get on the net because I think it's the only thing which make me feel I am living my life."Zayed:--
"I arrived at Basrah Friday afternoon. The moment I wearily stepped out of the bus, I felt like I was slapped in the face. It was like twenty hair dryers blowing on your face and body all at once and I'm not exaggerating. The city had a foggy appearance from the heat and humidity. I started cursing to myself and mumbling to the taxi driver about what it would be like over here in July or August, and whether they were really sane to be living in such a place. That night at the residence I swear the walls were oozing steam onto us, the electricity schedule was also the same as Baghdad now, 3 on, 3 off alternately (a total of 12 hours power a day), with a few minor outages during the 3 hours you are supposed to have it on, and some cheating going on with the 3 hours off which works something like this: it goes out 10 minutes before schedule and it's back 10-15 minutes after the three hours, so you are robbed of about 20 minutes from your luxurious 3 hours of power. I screamed at my cook when he insisted that the sharji (hot humid wind from the sea) hadn't started yet, meaning there is even worse to come, I really wanted to cry after hearing that."Faiza:--
"Last night the weather was very hot, without electricity, and with lots of mosquitos... and somebody asked me about the new Iraqi leaders.. we all think, in this time, the leader is coming due to an American specifications... when the leader is coming due to Iraqi specifications.. we can say: we are free, and our country is free."Dahr Jamail:--
“Iraq is sitting atop a volcano,” says a school teacher in Haditha. “The Americans are aggravating people here, trying to get a reaction. Everyone in this province is against them now!” Most Iraqis I speak with nowadays are seething with rage towards the occupiers of their country. With their mosques being raided, damaged or destroyed on what has become a nearly daily basis, they have had enough."
Daily Life in Iraq
"Driving back to Baghdad finds the usual delays from military convoys and checkpoints. Iraqis are not getting used to being delayed by the foreign militaries in their country, as cars honk and tempers rise with each passing minute. In Baghdad, according to General Kimmitt, currently 76 roads are blocked for “security reasons.” Snarled traffic in the capital is a daily fact of life, people sitting in their cars, their anger rising along with the 100 degree temperatures."Faiza Jarrar:--
"I`m talking about our life this days..I`m telling the truth.. I`m not anti- American person.. I do like and respect Americans.. but I`m talking against the bad leaders and bad planning.. come and live here, to understand the feelings of Iraqis.. the real Iraqis...not the others you saw on your Fox TV... NO,... that is false ... Nobody cares about our feelings and our humanity. We say: "the student has gone , the master has come" We mean by the student Saddam, while US is the master.. And it's much crueler… "GinMar:--
"There’s so much to see, and sometimes you have to adjust your thinking a little bit. There are heaps of dirt and bricks on the sidewalks, and if you don’t look twice, they can look like refuse. To an Iraqi, though, they represent possibility. They’re either for sale or being used for reconstruction. We passed quite a few heaps of straw today, either burning or about to be set on fire, and I don’t know what that was about."
Daily Life in Iraq
"Good morning… News is still the same… If you don’t listen to news for two or three days and go back again to find that they are still talking about the exact same things… That reminded me of the Iraq-Iran war…"Dahr Jamail:--
"Holding my press badge up in the air, in loud, clear English from about 50 feet away I yelled to a soldier sitting behind a machine gun on a Bradley, “I am press! May I please get a comment from one of you about what the goal of your operation is here?” Before I finished that sentence a soldier standing near the armored vehicle pulled his M-16 to his shoulder and held me in his sights. With a wave of adrenaline I yelled, “I am press! I just want to get a comment from someone!” Two soldiers gestured their heads “no” with their heads while another waved me away, all the while the soldier kept his gun trained on me. Freedom of the press in the ‘New Iraq.’ I slowly walked back to a crowd of Iraqis nodding their heads in disbelief, pondering why people wonder for one second why there is so much anger in Iraq towards the occupiers ...Faiza Jarrar:--
Later that day in Kirkuk, pools of green sewage stood in several streets, as they do in the impoverished Sadr City and other places within Baghdad. Reconstruction, mostly controlled by foreign contractors, has been brought to a grinding halt due to the horrendous security situation."
"Wicked minds keep working day and night, to produce stories to distract people and keep them busy, the story of torturing Iraqi prisoners embarrasses the western media, so they make new stories to drag the attention of those who are against war to another issue, that keeps them angry, and the war keep going… Now the story of the prisoner that was beheaded, who did that? We Iraqis sink in our questions, who are those scum who want to ruin our reputation? If we want to behead, Baghdad is filled with American solders, why didn’t we behead any of them? If we are so barbaric! Why the picture of beheading is only on internet, never in streets, doesn’t that tell you something? Who made these pictures? Who are those anti-Islam who run these web sites? Who finances them? Who is behind them? Who supports them to ruin the image of Islam? We are sick of these nonsense stories, that fires the hate of the ignorant naive people, and makes us their enemies, while we are innocent…"Zeyad:--
"Adhamiyah is still considered a war zone, and surprises are bound to happen over there as it's the most anti-American district in Baghdad. Iraqi flags (with the Allahu Akbar sign) are pasted on almost every store, graffiti praising the 'valiant resistance' are all over the place, some prasing Saddam openly, and recently there have been a few shyly saluting Muqtada Al-Sadr and Al-Mahdi army. Two days ago, Adhamiyah residents talked about clashes with American troops following the celebrations on the Iraqi Olympic football team's qualification to the Athens Olympics. Baghdad's night sky was red with celebratory gun fire at that day. Apparently, American patrols were bewildered and had mistaken the gun fire as attacks against them, possibly returning fire at foolish Iraqi football enthusiasts."
Life in Baghdad
"Good morning ... don`t ask me about news .. every thing is going bad."River bend:--
"They let out around 300+ prisoners today while that sadistic fiend Rumsfeld was in town. Apparently, setting 300 prisoners free of the thousands currently detained is supposed to mollify Iraqis- quite like Bush's lame half-apology to King Abdallah of Jordan. What is King Abdallah to us? What does it matter if Bush gets down and begs him for forgiveness? What in God's name does he represent to the Iraqi people?"GinMar:--
"It was dusty and dry today, the air felt like something was baking in it."River bend:--
"The end-of-the-year examinations have started in most of the schools. The school administrations are trying to get them over with as soon as humanly possible. It's already unbearably hot and dusty and the heat gets worse as summer progresses. Last year examinations were held in June and July and children were fainting in the summer heat in schools with no electricity. We're hoping to avoid that this year."Nabil:--
"The Iraqi football team succeeds to qualifier to Athena after wining a huge match against Saudi Arabia they won 3-1 the Saudi team score first goal and after six minutes the Iraqi team made it draw 1-1 and at the second half the Iraqi team made a lot of attacks on the Saudi goal and they succeed to score the second goal and at the end of the second half when all the Saudi team is trying to make it draw the Iraqi team surprised them by scoring the third goal but this is not enough because if one of Oman or Kuwait win will qualifier to Athena but there mach went on 0-0 and the Iraqi team qualifier to Athena and after the wining they Iraqi people calibrate about this wining and they went outside to street and they dance and laugh because of this huge chance because If Oman or Kuwait win Iraq will never qualifier, and the Iraqi team played without his professional players because they are not playing good now days."
Daily Life in Iraq
"Last Friday I took my family for lunch in one of the social clubs here in Baghdad, Where usually families gather for lunch and children play, men may discuss business, some may use the internet café, and people stays for the day. And there were hundreds of them. Nobody was talking about Mahdy militia or Abo Ghraib. Not because we don’t care, actually we care too much but its very obvious that thing are heading to be solved and those who are wise enough are concentrating on how to achieve their goal in life."Dahr Jamail:--
"Another development of note is that recently U.S. patrols and convoys have allowed cars to drive near them, as well as between their Humvees and Bradleys. This was never allowed before – previously, when they were on the streets you could always expect a traffic jam, as they would not let a single car pass, or even get near them. So now the military is using Iraqis as human shields on the streets and highways in an effort to protect themselves from attacks by the resistance. Everyone I’ve spoken with about this is aware of the military’s tactics. This is just as they intend to do in Fallujah when U.S. patrols are resumed there: to use the Iraqi Police (IP) and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) to buffer themselves against the attacks that are sure to come, even worse than before."Zeyad:--
"Dr. Jawad Al-Shakarchi, a famous ophthalmologist was beaten together with his wife in front of his own house by armed assailants and was then forced to pay a ransom of $30,000. He left Iraq shortly following his release. Dr. Walid Al-Khayyal, a world famous Iraqi nephrologist specialised in kidney surgery and implantation immigrated to the UK immediately after his release a few weeks ago. He mentioned that his kidnappers tortured him and urinated in his mouth several times in an attempt to break his will. He refused to disclose the sum he paid for ransom.
Dr. Abdul Hadi Al-Khalili, a specialist in brain surgery, is still suffering from severe psychological trauma and depression because of the humiliation he experienced by his captors and the large sum he paid in order to save his life. Dr. Raysan Al-Fayyadh, a general surgeon, was kidnapped by 15 gunmen in 3 cars. His family paid his captors $50,000 after he had sustained fractures in his nose and left arm after a whole week of torture.
Other gangs have resorted to blackmailing doctors monthly in return for their personal safety. The target is often threatened with death or abduction of a family member in case he doesn't comply with their demands. Eventually, this lead to rivalry and disputes between gangs competing for wealthier targets, often settled by assigning 'areas of influence' to each gang"
"Baghdad is quiet. There was less traffic since the publishing of the torture photos from Abu Gharib. It feels like the whole city sank into sadness and disbelief. People used to talk about such incidents but as they had no proof, it was nothing but gossip. Then the pictures were published and it turned into a fact ...riverbend:--
"President Bush is on TV speaking so softly and calmly. That's the first time we see him speaking in a decent soft manner. We are used to watching him threatening, anger evident in his eyes, his hands gesturing doom and gloom… Who will believe him?"
"People are so angry. There’s no way to explain the reactions- even pro-occupation Iraqis find themselves silenced by this latest horror. I can’t explain how people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow, pictures of dead Iraqis are easier to bear than this grotesque show of American military technique. People would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded by the animals running Abu Ghraib prison.GinMar:--
"Iraq is like a cake dome, basically---one of those flat plates with a glass dome over it, huge and arched. It’s hot now, and the sky seems gray all the time with heat. Sometimes you can see the heat rippling up off the pavement, distorting the air above it into visible waves. Underneath the sky, the ground is covered with hunched dusty bushes, patches of dead earth, and crouched trees, all of them beaten down by the wind and the sand. Puddles and lakes dry and leave behind flat expanses of salty white ground. There are almost no hills, and most of the ones that one does see are berms, shoveled up to conceal tanks. Now cows graze inside them, and shepherds sit in what shade they provide. Trees seem to appear along the horizon or occasional roads, sometimes clustered along creeks and irrigated fields. Water is the sign of prosperity around here."Dahr Jamail:--
"At roughly 7:30 this morning I was awakened by a huge explosion that rocked my hotel building. I can tell how close they are now by how much I feel them through the floor. If they are further away, they just rattle the windows a bit. This one I felt through the floor. The walls shook, and brought that usual feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach which accompanies the thought that several human beings have just been blown to pieces ...
A fire truck feebly sprayed water onto the incinerated vehicle; the flame always reignited, smoke spewing out the sides. The flames twisted agonizingly in a spiral creating a hellish tornado. Glass in all of the surrounding buildings had been blown out, along with that of several cars along the street. A leg was found 200 meters from the blast site. Broken glass covers the grass near the line of blasted cars ...
Yesterday driving down the highway we passed a U.S. patrol traveling in the opposite direction. One of the trucks carried soldiers wielding their guns in the usual way: aiming them at all of the passing traffic. The soldiers had plywood around them as they stood in the back of the truck. On the plywood was spray painted, "South Carolina Killers."
More Scenes From Iraqi Life
"There are two different kinds of strain. There's the physical strain of carrying 40 pails of water up and down the stairs to fill the empty water tank on the roof- after the 4th or 5th pail of water, you can literally see your muscles quivering under your skin and without the bucket of water, your arms somehow feel weightless- almost nonexistent. Then there's mental strain… that is when those forty buckets of water are being emptied in your head and there's a huge flow of thoughts and emotions that threaten to overwhelm you.Jo Wilding:--
I think everyone I know is suffering from that mental strain. You can see it in the eyes and hear it in the taut voices that threaten to break with the burden of emotion. We're all watching things carefully and trying to focus on leading semi-normal lives all at once. The situation in the south seems to be deteriorating and we hear of fresh new deaths every day. Fighting has broken out in Falloojeh again and I'm not quite sure what has happened to the ceasefire. It's hard to know just what is going on. There's a sense of collective exhaustion in the air."
"Qusay Ali Yasseen, spokesman for the IRC, said there are a lot of kids, especially, suffering from diarrhoea, either from unclean water they had to drink on the journey or from unhygienic conditions since they arrived in Baghdad, their immune systems suppressed by trauma and shock. Chest infections are also rife among the kids because of the heat. Some of them walked for a day or two to safety. In the middle of each day, local people arrive and unload trays, boxes and pans of food. They have taken on the responsibility of feeding the increasing numbers of homeless, Qusay said. Through the day, other locals arrived in cars to offer help. A three truck convoy flying Unicef banners unloaded boxes of parts for a water tank, a 70 foot tent for a children’s area and several crates of crayons and paper and other kids’ stuff."Faiza:--
"Faiza: -- “Good morning. All news are depressing. Nothing is promising. Falloja is still on fire.”
Another Day In Iraq
"Today is the weekend...thank god we are all home. I always hated this day, weekend, since it has always been the day when i am supposed to finish all the house work that wasn?t done during the entire week. And I used to feel that it's a long boring day... But now, and considering the bad security situation, this day became such a relief, since we all stay home, hiding, it saves us the panic of moving around the city, where you never guess when the next bomb will explode. Everyday in the traffic, i keep staring at the cars around me and think which one is going to explode now and kill us all? And when i am home, at night, while I am in my bed, I hear explosions coming from a distance, then it start to come closer and closer, and I keep thinking that maybe a bomb will fall on our house by mistake, shoot by Americans or Iraqi people, what's the difference?"Riverbend --
"There have also been explosions in Basra and Baghdad but they hardly register on the news anymore. Iraqis take it in stride along with dust storms, blackouts and mosquitos. It has become a part of life and one simply has to find away to live around it, just as one finds a way around American road blocks and concrete walls that are rising ever higher. There is a sort of muggy, heavy heat lately. It's not the usual dry Iraqi heat that we're accustomed to. It's more of a moist, clammy heat that feels almost solid. The electrical situation is still quite bad in many areas. We're on a schedule of 3 hours of electricity and then three hours of darkness. While it was tolerable during the cool winter months, the hellish summer months promise to be torture."Dahr Jamail --
"Here is what ?relatively calm? looks like in Baghdad on a daily basis-using the last 24 hours as an example. Early this morning I was awakened by a huge explosion quite a distance off. Far away, yet large enough to wake me and shake my bed, followed by a couple of smaller explosions. Nearly every time a bomb goes off, people are killed. There is sporadic gunfire every night--this in one of the better areas of central Baghdad. Several friends of mine who live in Adhamiyah district report that on a nightly basis the U.S. base there in the Adhamiyah Palace is bombed by mortars. This is the same area where a South African mercenary was shot dead yesterday ... The suffering is everywhere. Anyone traveling outside the ?Green Zone? cannot help but have it thrust in their face. Begging women and children on the streets, people with disabilities sitting legless near buildings holding out their hands for a few dinars. Nearly every car on the street looks as though it has been pulled from a scrap yard. The electricity blinks on and off, and if you are lucky, you have heated running water for a shower."
In Iraq Today
"I woke up before seven in the morning….the sound of birds turned my attention to the tranquility. I haven’t heard the sound of birds for such a long time. I remembered the Dutch journalist who came to visit us a week ago, who said that he woke up to the sound of tanks and helicopters in the morning…and then after a few hours he heard the sound of birds….I laughed and told myself, look at this bourgeoisie man - we have forgotten this, romantic sages from antiquity ...
"All we do is read subtitles on the American and Arab media that the Americans are studying the possibility of sending organized forces to ensure security in Iraq and nothing is sent. It’s as if they are looking at us while we are dying a slow death. Exactly like an injured person in the emergency room of a hospital, trying to breath, and speak of the accident he’s just had. And the doctor thinks and waits, and organizes a meeting for the doctors, in the future. It’s not important, because this issue is not a priority, and perhaps, if the injured man dies, then the problem would be resolved completely. This is how we feel the American administration is treating us."
Jaffar Raed --
"Over a year, and no one can name a single success for the American administration in Iraq… I mean… I really try to find something bright… Public services? Electricity... water... telecommunication… hospitals… schools… The only thing that has happened is “rehabilitating” some schools by Bechtel, and let me tell u more about it…
Bechtel charged around $75,000 per school, and gave the contracts to Iraqi sub-contractors, the Iraqi sub-contractors gave to other Iraqi sub-sub-contractors, and the sub-sub-contractors painted the schools, fixed the bathrooms, changed the broken windows and put some light bulbs, the thing that cannot cost more than $7,500 (around fifteen million Iraqi Dinars). Rehabilitation was poor and extremely costly; it was the first corruption story that destroyed the credibility of the plans of reconstruction. I’m sure I had already said many things about how bad the situation of hospitals, libraries (the ones that were not burned and looted), universities and gas stations are.
Infrastructure? Landmarks? Governmental buildings? Telephone exchanges? Destroyed buildings and bridges are as they were one year ago, some buildings were brought down at Najaf and Basra (which is better than leaving them standing and adding more depression to the urban skyline), but the buildings in Baghdad were not even touched… they look sad and painful, downtown Baghdad looks like a battlefield, can you imagine all the buildings that you love… that you spent your life watching and using… being burned and partially destroyed? Can u imagine the feeling you would have if you went by the White House or the Capitol while it was burning and destroyed? Can you imagine what it would feel like to have the twin towers of the WTC standing for months burned and partially destroyed… the skyline of Baghdad reminds me of war and death, reminds me of explosions and destruction. Other smaller landmarks like status of people, pictures, small monuments and other things that were destroyed after the war, under the campaign of De-Baathification left Baghdad and the other Iraqi cities full of small destroyed icons."
Rahul Mahajan --
"Before we go to the airport, I tell the driver I'd like to take a picture of the statue in Firdaus Square. I want to be able to show people back home the ugliest thing in all of Iraq. He is skeptical about whether I will be able to -- there is a permanent U.S. military detachment, complete with a big tank, guarding the Palestine Hotel and the Sheraton.Jo Wilding --
I approach the statue that has replaced Saddam Hussein's and take several pictures. There are two old men sitting at the base; I wave to them and they wave back. Then, not satisfied with the fact that I have almost no pictures from my trip (on the trip to fallujah, I did the digital equivalent of keeping the lens cap cover on), I suddenly take leave of my senses. With my mind already wandering past Iraq, I forget that my body is still planted very firmly in Iraq. I swivel around to take a picture of the tank. Suddenly the men at the base of the statue erupt, jumping up and gesticulating wildly. I suddenly come back to my senses. the most dangerous thing you can do in Iraq is take a picture of an American soldier with a big gun pointed at you. If they don't think you're shooting at them, they're likely to think you're a journalist, which is even more dangerous. In front of the "Green Zone," where the CPA headquarters are, there's a sign that says, "No photography." But nobody needs the sign; everyone knows."
"This is my honeymoon,” Heba said, in the crowded corridor of bomb shelter number 24 in the Al-Ameriya district of Baghdad. Married just under a month, she fled Falluja with her extended family. “There were bombs all the time. We couldn’t sleep. Even if you fell asleep, nightmares woke you up. We just gathered the whole family in one room and waited.
“It is better here than in Falluja. We hear bombs but they are far away and not so many. But there is no water in here: we have to go outside for water for drinking, cooking and washing ourselves and our clothes and we buy ice. There is no fridge, no fans, no air conditioning, no generator and only one stove for us all. We have to go to the garden for a toilet and that’s a problem at night. Everyone has diarrhoea from the ice that we bought."
"When I got home Raed said the colour had come back to my cheeks for the first time since the Falluja trips. “I think you have been playing with children,” he said. It’s true. It did make a difference. The violence starts to pervade everything: Karlu and the other kids on our street were playing Hostages as we left in the morning, Ahmed holding one hand over Karlu’s eyes and making sawing motions at his throat with the other hand."