It has been a while since I last wrote my roundup but today I will only write about three blogs. There is so much to report and, yet, at the same time I feel there is so little. You hear a lot about Iraq in the news, about military surges and oil laws, benchmarks and statistics, political disagreements and security. There is a whole maze of paths and blind alleys that one can travel down considering the situation in Iraq. But all this boils down to one thing and that is the everyday life and hopes of the people living in Iraq.
Maybe none better can explain what I mean than a post in Inside Iraq. Sahar quotes the story of a cousin returning home in Baghdad one day:
“We turned the corner and all of a sudden all hell broke loose. We were a target! WHY?? What is happening?? We ducked as far as we could, but the fire wouldn't stop! Who was shooing at us??
“A thin scream! Oh my God!
“She went limp in my arms! I started screaming and screaming. My husband tried to move and was shot too. Twice. But he didn't pass out.
“I opened the door. Cradling Tara in my arms and shouting for Dima to stick by me, I crawled out of the car, and continued to crawl the few meters to the gate of the nearest house. Too terrified to raise my voice, I banged and banged with all my strength – and miraculously – the door opened.
“Arms came to my assistance, we were half dragged into the house…
“A few minutes passed.
“Miraculously, I saw my husband's twisted face peep through the half open gate at ground level! They ran to him and pulled him in. We found that he was shot in the shoulder and in the arm. He was loosing blood fast.
“I tried to stop the bleeding but wasn't skilled enough to do it. I was losing them – they were dying in front of my eyes!
“Suddenly the door was kicked in. American troops poured into the house … Looking at us – at the blood – at my broken family..
“They said they were sorry. They had set up an ambush for somebody and we had walked into it. “They thought he had taken refuge in this house, and followed him in.
“They said they were sorry, again and again…
“My daughter lost two fingers. My husband has a punctured lung and a steel sliver embedded in his arm, still to be seen to.
Sahar finishes, with more than a hint of irony,on the major news of the day:
Parliament resumes its sessions tomorrow to discuss important things like Oil Law, maybe, or new ministers.
Security in Baghdad is better.
Normal life among the car bombs
Sunshine describes the routine when a car bomb is discovered in her neighbourhood:
dad come running and saying “OPEN ALL THE WINDOWS AND DOORS THERE IS A CAR BOMB IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR THE HOUSE” I was shocked and didn't think about anything I opened my room's windows and called our neighbor S to tell them about the car, so that they open the windows and doors and hide in a safe place , their dad replied
- hello uncle , if you don't mind , please, if it is ok
(then I thought what am I saying?!!) There is a car in our neighborhood and will explode in a sec, thought I would tell you to ..
- he interrupted me saying , oh yea I knew about that, thanks , and stay safe..
I went downstairs with my family members and we stayed in a safe room, I forgot all the prayers, I was trying to remember simple says in Quran but I forgot every word, and started to think about 100 things in the same time, I felt scared from the stressed situation, there were policemen in our neighborhood and in front of our house, suddenly I started to laugh, I said ” people change their clothes and wait for guests, or relatives, but I am waiting for the car to explode” …
After an hour of waiting, and I think it was the longest hour in my life, we heard VERY HEAVY shooting, dad and grandpa asked us to go to the corridor and wait, after 30 minutes I felt tired, I took of my shoes, and kept walking in the corridor, I was standing near the stairs and the kitchen's door, BOOOOOOOOOOOOM the ground started to shake under our feet and the other door of the kitchen was opened from the bluster with so much dust, Mariam was screaming , and mama was saying ” it is over now, it is over now” I said “thank god”
Now is the shocking fact that car bombs still target residential areas or that people already have developed routines to cope with them?
A fishing trip among the bombs and bullets
A few days later Sunshine and her family decide to go on a fishing trip. Sunshine‘s mother, mama, describes the event:
I took my kids to a picnic ,to a casino [resort] near the Tigris river with some relatives, Sunshine enjoyed fishing there ,my other two kids ,Miriam and yoyo, had fun too swimming and playing, although we heard many many explosions but the kids did not care, I supposed to have fun there, the weather was great, the company was nice , the view of the river was so much relieving , my kids happiness was the most important thing to me, but suddenly I burst into tears ….Then as I was close to one of the trees I heard a far away shooting and few moments latter the tree wicker near my head was smashed by an aimless bullet…the fear I felt was beyond discretion…
Sunshine took all the explosions in her stride. She writes:
we heard sooooooo many explosions but we were in a safe place, we were able to see the smoke in the other side, one of the explosions was near my house, grandma was alone, but she is ok, now we don't care about the material thing, the money come and go, but the soul doesn't.
but after hearing her mother's story she later adds:
I had a great time fishing, & thought everyone was happy, I didn't know that my mom burst in tears nor about the bullet that hit the tree few centimeters away from my mom, she hide that and didn't mention it. When she told me my heart began to beat fast and I felt horrible, and started to think what if my mom was a little bit to the right or to the left, I wouldn't forgive myself because I wanted to go fishing and they agreed because they wanted me to be happy.
Sunshine recounts some of the tragedies that happened in her neighbourhood and admits her fears:
I do feel scared, from everything, even if I try to hide it, but there's a horrifying feeling inside me. Everyday I hear a shocking news, my neighborhood is more dangerous than before, about 4 car bombs were found this week, beside the so many mines. Every street leads to my house is closed, no one can enter/leave my neighborhood, we are stuck!!!! How will I be able to go to school? Hospital? We can't even go to the other side from the neighborhood.
These are just stories from two families that were written in the last couple of weeks. How many times have such stories been repeated for the millions of Iraqis over the last four years.
It seems to me no amount of congressional benchmarks or American military surges will bring normal life back to ordinary Iraqis. It may succeed in temporarily propping up an increasingly unpopular government. But, after one year, two years, then what?