Across the Bay

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Iraqi Voices

I found this link to an Iraqi blog (Iraq the Model) in The National Review. I had wanted to feature an Iraqi blog for a while and I'm finally doing so (it's now among the links to your left!). The blog itself links to other Iraq-based blogs.

It's important to hear these voices to get a sense of what people there are thinking and feeling (as opposed to relying on Juan Cole for a description of the Shiites' positions for instance!), and sure enough, I'm pasting this story from "Iraq the Model" to give you an example:

Few days ago, I was riding a cap from work to my home. The driver as expected tried to start a chat. I was too tired and not in the mood to join him. There was a traffic jam that obviously annoyed him and the weather was hot as expected in a May noon. He said, "Baghdad has become impossible" this has become a usual phrase to start a conversation. It’s the synonym for the British “looks like a nice weather today”. I was becoming sick of complaints that usually start with this phrase. I said to myself, "Oh my god not another American hater" I didn’t want to reply but I thought it might help to pass time so I answered, “When was Baghdad ‘possible’?” the driver replied, “yes, life was always hard but these days they’ve become intolerable”
-Because of the Americans, you mean?

-No, of course not. Because of the difficulties in work.

-What do you mean? I know that you now charge double or triple the fees while cars and spare parts are cheaper now than ever.

-Yes, but the hours we can work in have decreased considerably because of the bad security conditions.

-What bad security conditions!? You are still afraid that someone might rob your car and get away with it in such a traffic jam??

-Of course not, but I can’t work for a late hour.

-I understand your fears but I always have known this place to be busy until midnight.

-That’s true but not in my neighborhood, so I have to go back much earlier than that

-Where do you live?

-In Sadr city.

-Oh I see, but what do you think the cause of this insecurity?

-Is that a question?? They are those thugs and thieves.

-Who are those?!

-Sadr followers.

-I agree, but I don’t understand your people there. Why do they support them!?

-Do you really believe that?? I swear to God they are no more than a couple of thousands terrorizing millions and hiding behind slogans like jihad and resistance. The whole city has got sick and tired of their doings. We just want to work, feed our children and take a break. We are tired of all this bullshit. They can’t deceive us anymore.
This idiot is taking advantage of his father’s name and we know the people who are gathering around him. Most of them are gangsters and ex-convicts with some foolish teenagers. They are anything but Muslims. Every now and then one of these cowards come hiding his face and fire against the American troops and when the Americans respond innocents get hurt.

I was encouraged by his attitude and asked:

-Why don’t you try to do something about it?

-Who says we aren’t? I’m one of the people who reported some members of the Mahdi army to the IP and now they are in prison.

-Really!? God bless you. That was brave of you. These people really belong there.

-Sure they do! Did this idiot forget who killed his father!? And who took his revenge? Could he have ever raised his voice if it wasn’t for the same people whom he’s fighting now? Well let the Iranians help him now! Believe me brother when I say that the majority of Sadr city people are grateful for the Americans. We didn’t fire a bullet at them when they entered our city. We gave them the reception of liberators and they are. Why would we fight them now!?