Day 1. The 20th. of March 2003.
The sound was characteristic because we in Iraq became familiar with it. I was half a sleep when I heard the alarm siren; I jumped from my bed and went to the living room to see that everyone was awake already. Omar faced me with a smile and said " see I told you today is the day" and I said, “YEAH, F*** SADDAM!!”.
It’s the beginning then! I looked at the clock to see it pointing to 5:35 a.m. I had only few minutes of restless sleep. We tried to search the TV channels hoping we could find something to tell us about what’s happening, was it for real or just a false alarm, however after only few seconds we got our reassurance after we heard the sound of the anti aircraft cannons that were positioned all over Baghdad.
OK, now the TV channels were putting live what’s happening in Baghdad. I left the TV and went with Omar to the roof to have a better view and left the others following what's showed on TV. We took our tea cups (which was prepared in a hurry) with us; the weather was nice with a slight cold breeze. Light spread all over the sky by the effect of the anti aircraft guns and until that moment we could only hear the sound of their blasts in the air. I lit a cigarette and said to Omar “this one will have a different flavor” we named it (the cigarette of freedom) I’ll never forget it. We felt great relief after a long anxious waiting. The important thing is that the operation has finally begun.
After a while the sounds of the cannons went low so we sat down waiting for the official statement from the American administration and it wasn’t long before president GWB came on TV saying that the operation Iraqi freedom has begun and that the first strikes aimed at the head of the regime and that those were based on intelligence reports.
As for me, I’m satisfied with the name of the operation; that’s all I want. It makes clearly without any doubt what’s the purpose of the operation, it’s clear that it will not be a limited one. The lesson in 1991 was so hard and we have the right to fear its recurrence but the name of the operation brings with it a hope that we longed for impatiently.
I was so excited to see my friends, later and talk with them. It happened! and I want to know what everyone in Iraq feels right now and share it with him. All right, we will not be forced to watch these ugly faces on TV from now on.
This day was much quieter than I expected. I didn’t hear any huge explosion and there was no shock or awe but the great surprise for me was that the coalition troops had already started the ground attack and passed across the borders and that was very different from what we expected which was a long -air raids- campaign to precede the operations on the ground. There’s a combined air and ground attack. Why don’t they continue bombing the regime’s headquarters and everything will fall apart spontaneously like what happened in 1991!? I can’t tell what’s on the minds of the people who planned for this operation but I’m sure they know what they’re doing.
Saddam starts to set fire in some of the oil wells in the south. He did it. He always threatens by rumors he spreads through his agents with this one phrase “I will hand them Iraq only when it's leveled with the ground”. That’s my greatest fear; that the criminal will decide to take revenge. He had already attacked Kuwait with ground-to-ground missiles.
What will be the nature of this battle? I still can’t tell. I met some friends to see that everyone has somewhat calmed down at last. The whole issue was decided and the count down for the regime has begun.
We anticipated a heavy bombing in the evening but that did not happen, just the sounds of the alarm sirens accompanied by prayers from the mosques in response to an order from Saddam to start prayers through loud speakers with every air raid (like Allah will listen to him!!). I could only hear faint sounds of remote explosions.
I was so exhausted, for several nights I haven’t slept only for few hours so I found myself in bed very early. I need long hours of sleep. Today I will sleep well for the first time in a week!!