News and opinions on situation in Iraq
11/11/04 Prayers for Vengeance, More Death… by Dahr Jamail
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **

Today Abu Talat meets me and he is in a somber mood.

He’s down because last night after the curfew began at 9:30pm, US military helicopters were circling his neighborhood until 3am.

“How can we live like this,” he asks while holding up his hands, “We are trapped in our own country.”

He tells me, “You know Dahr, everyone is praying for God to take revenge on the Americans. Everyone!” He went on to tell me that even while people are praying in their homes, they are praying for God to take vengeance on the Americans for what they are doing in Falluja.

“Everyone I’ve talked to the last couple of nights, 80 or 90 people, is telling me they are doing this,” he says somberly.

Later that night Salam shows up with a wild look in his eyes, sweat beading on his forehead. “My friend has just been killed, and he was one of my best friends,” he tells me, “I can’t imagine that he is dead, really, but I guess it is ok.”

He talks to me about his friends’ family. “They are so poor, they live 21 people in a house with three bedrooms, and they are good people,” he says, before going on to explain more about his dead friends’ situation.

He was working as a translator for the military because he had to earn money for his family. Unfortunately, he was working with TITAN, a private security company. It was either starve to death, or work with the coalition.

He was on a military patrol in Baghdad when it came under attack near the Taji airbase and his friend was shot by the resistance.

This isn’t all. A relative of Salam had been missing for six days. Today, his body was brought to his family by someone who found it on the road. The body, which had been shot twice in the chest and twice in the head, was dropped off to the family. There were visible signs of torture on the body, and the four bullet shells which were used to kill him had been placed in his pants pocket.

This is life in Baghdad today.

“I am crazy today with this news Dahr,” exclaims Salam while holding his hands up in the air, “The number of people killed here is growing so fast everyday, it is shit.” He hangs his head back and takes a deep breath, then exhales slowly.

He explains how it has been this way in Iraq his whole life, but not ever has it been like this. “When I was a child, it was common to have some family member who was killed in the war with Iraq,” he says, “But now, everyone is dying everyday.”

I can feel the tenseness of being in Baghdad-the relentless threat of being kidnapped or car bombed, or simply robbed, grinding on me already…and I’ve been here less than a week. Sleep is oftentimes interrupted by mortars exploding in the “Green Zone,” helicopters rumbling low overhead, fighter jets roaring towards Fallujah, or gunfire which is sporadic, yet persistent, in the streets of Baghdad.

Yet my friends, who are living here, how do they do it? It saddens me to see them so increasingly somber, withdrawn and angry than they were a year ago when we first met, as their hope for peace, resolution and true sovereignty in Iraq dims a little more with each passing day.

Back to Main Index >> Iraq Index >> Middle East Index >> Palestine/Israel Index