So says HNK. The world media seems to treat the Northern Iraqi city, Mosul, as more of a footnote their in the stream of news. Giving no more than a passing comments that the Iraqi prime minister declared a “decisive battle” to win back the city. When I read such headlines I know the human consequences will turn out to be horrific. So, today I dedicate my post to the extraordinary bloggers of Mosul who are living on the front line of a war zone. Also, one blogger writes on the conditions for women in Iraq and if you read to the end, you will find the mother of all bikers.
“mspaint love” by nadia n
Here at Global Voices authors have a tradition of emailing birthday wishes to each other. In the same spirit I wish to send belated birthday greetings to Sunshine. She got the wish that every Iraqi in her situation hopes for. Sunshine writes:
On my birthday, I came home, had lunch, and decided to take a nap, because I couldn't sleep well at night … as soon as I laid on my bed a [gun] fight started behind the house, (about 30 meters away), of course my wish in my birthday was to stay alive.
I thought “to run, or to stay???!” then I remembered the saying “what hits me wasn't suppose to miss me, and what miss me wasn't suppose to hit me; so I put the pillow on my head and a blanket, and fall asleep!!!! I was so tired.
At 4 pm I heard singing “ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU” , I opened my eyes and saw my family members around the bed singing, it was really funny and special I blew my candles while I was still in bed ..
Mosul on the edge
Aunt Najma explains the situation in Mosul like no one else can:
In short very little is going right, and the situation in Mosul is going from really bad to much worse.
During the exams period, and in the course of one week, two professors in the university were killed in their way back from their colleges. One was killed in front of his children as they were with him in the car, and the other in front of his son who also got a bullet from the attack but survived it. …
It is a bad dream, but that's it, it doesn't end. You just have to live through it and put all your feelings in some jar because they won't do you any good.
ِDuring the exams a car bomb exploded in our street and broke some of the windows.. And during the exams, and in the midst of the mess, they decided to change the flag. And they did. And we the people didn't have a say in this.. They're just way too wise to be true.
Now it's the break.. and I hate breaks.. I'm sitting here at home waiting for the decisive battle on Mosul.. I'm waiting for them to come search the house.. and I do not feel like writing, so excuse me.
Sunshine reports that the past three weeks have been “very very very hard“:
I felt afraid from staying alone at night because the shelling didn't stop and we didn't have electricity, it is hard to admit that 16 years old Sunshine was afraid to stay alone at night! The new operation against Al-qaida will begin soon.
She gives her account of the huge explosion which I reported before but she adds the stories which made her “feel how great people the Iraqis are”:
I heard [on] the radio, when A man said “ I was in the hospital in the day of explosion, and I saw the ambulances bringing people injured very badly, I wanted to help but didn’t know what to do, so I took my car, went to a neighborhood and started to shout, “an explosion happened in a neighborhood, many people were injured, is there any one willing to donate with blood?” and I came to the hospital with about 25 guys”
Many people called and adopted the orphans, many people donated with money, clothes, & medicines, my mom and her friend called every dentist they knew collected money to the wounded people.
A man called the radio and his words touched my heart he said “I don’t have money to give, but I’ll work for free and re-build the destroyed houses and shops“ and he gave the reporter his number, the world needs more people like him.
Meanwhile in Basra…
Hussain went to visit his relatives. For readers not faimiliar with the city, here is Hussain's description:
I love Basra city, which lies in the far south of Iraq and in the north of the Arab gulf. So it has the sea and harbors which we don't have in all over the country in addition to its people who are well known for their generosity and hospitality. … More than 75 % of the budget comes from Basra.
The strange thing is that all Iraqi ports lie in Basra which means that all imported stuff from Asia and some European countries and exported oil to them should be through the Arab gulf and Basra! If Basra depends only on taxes which come from harbors, it should have skyscrapers everywhere.
But he was shocked to find the city neglected by the government in every way and rife with corruption:
the road from the main Harbor … to Basra city is unsafe for driving as the pavement is not good and bumpy due to the careless it has. This is a simple thing, while hospitals, factories and infrastructures are neglected or broken in this city. …
I went to Umm Filous harbor (about 30 km south of Basra), which is used to be a commercial one, but it becomes the harbor of oil smugglers.. When I asked my companion about the matter, who is from Basra city, he said” We have smugglers from Iran, Thailand, Malaysia, UAE , India and everywhere who deal with counterparts in Iraq with million dollars per day! I asked “Do the government know of this matter? The answer shocked me. “Most of the Iraqi smugglers are related to main parties in the government sharing the profits with them “he said.
My question is now for the government, if the government can't control a small piece in the far south of Basra, how it can rule the whole country?
The conditions for women
Neurotic Iraqi Wife has a conversation with a colleague who lives outside the Green Zone where Neurotica works. Her friend explains why she must go to work everyday dressed in black and with her head covered:
“I have no other choice “Neurotica”. Its either I cover up or I get killed
“Oh Neurotica, this is happening everywhere in Iraq, not just in Basrah or here but everywhere. We have become easy targets for those animal extremists”. The sadness in her voice slowly turned into anger. “Yes we suffered under Saddam’s regime, but atleast then, we knew who to blame. Now Neurotica, now, we don’t even know who to point the finger at? The Sadr Militias? The Badr Brigades? The Al Qaeda Wahabi extremists? Who do we blame Neurotica? Even the US forces are guilty.
“I don't even know if my neighbour will tell on me, or my friend. Or that old man I buy the vegetables from. Or that small boy sitting in the corner begging. I don't know who will shoot me first. The militia? The police? The Americans? Or maybe a drug addict, or a drunk man? Who is it gonna be? If it wasn't for my elderly parents I would have left long long time ago.
… “nothing has changed. Nothing at all. In Saddam’s time, we lived in fear, and now, we STILL live in fear. Do you think its possible for things to become normal again? Ever?”
Neurotic Wife concludes:
It angers me to see how these women suffer just because they ARE women.
…In my eyes, those women, those constantly supressed Iraqi women, are my true heroes. All they witnessed is constant sorrow and pain, yet their constant hunger for survival puts everyone to shame. Everyone, including me. I send my love and utmost respect to these women. These tough, resilient Iraqi Women. The women behind the Abbayas and Veils.
Imad Khadduri found on an Iraqi Classified Ad's website a photo of what must be Iraq's oldest Hell's Angel: