To me, the past week was more than quiet and normal; I was in Samawa where life is totally normal that I didn’t hear a single gun shot during the whole time I stayed there.
In the hospital we were busy preparing for the vaccination campaign which I volunteered for in spite of being a dentist because there was a shortage in man power in one of the teams that was responsible for a remote area inhabited by Bedu..We had to follow those Bedu in the desert. I was enjoying the process in spite of the terribly hot weather and the long distances we had to travel on foot sometimes because our vehicles couldn’t reach some points.
It’s fascinating to watch the life of these people with their tents and camels, no electricity, no TV and no phones. It’s so simple yet so tough, but they live this kind of life in a way that makes you wonder if they are missing anything or if you actually live a better life.
The team members were excited and we had the will to help those ‘poor’ people who were very helpful and welcomed our presence and efforts, and we finished the job according to the schedule and our hospital ranked first among other health centers in the province but only after the sun left its marks on our skin.
At that time I was following the news on TV just like any other person in any other place in this world as if I were outside the events circle. I really needed this time of internal peace to practice normal life but this didn’t last long as my vacation started and I headed back to Baghdad.
There were 40 passenger on that bus, most of them were coming from Samawa to visit Imam Kadhim’s shrine in Baghdad. They were mostly families traveling together but there were also some groups of young men. The road was quiet but we knew that as we travel farther to the north the danger would grow as troubles usually emerge at Latifiyah (60 km south of Baghdad) where I witnessed four road-side bombs explosions in previous trips.
We heard that the Iraqi forces have launched an offensive in this area after the citizens’ complaints have increased recently and I heard that this area together with Mahmodiyah is one of the most dangerous strongholds for pro-Qaida fighters and some suggest that Zarqawi himself is hiding in this region and actually there are many signs and evidence that support this idea; burned vehicles, slogans that have the signature of “Ansar Al-Sunna” and other terror groups and threats, addressing both Americans and Iraqis, as Iraqis who work for the government (like myself) are considered spies. Anyway, the operation ended by arresting 500 suspects but it’s still a wide area full of palm orchards that provide many suitable places for hiding.
As we approached the town we found that the police station there was totally destroyed in a recent attack by “Ansar Al-Islam” and some police cars were burnt.
As we were moving, the driver saw fire on the road and he speeded up to pass the accident site because we knew that the American and Iraqi forces will soon block the street and we might get trapped in the jam. The explosion was a fresh one, we reached the burning vehicle and it was a long unloaded cargo-truck with Iraqi registration plates. The driver was lying dead on the ground and he was shot more than once.
The atmosphere in our bus immediately turned to one of pain, anger and sorrow; some women began to cry.
I felt my heart getting squeezed in my chest and I got really depressed and I felt that a question is haunting me : can those savages really defeat us? They know that such scenes bring despair to our hearts and their weapons are mean and wicked but, aren’t humanity and goodness stronger than evil? Questions were asked loudly in the bus : “ Until when?” “Don’t those killers care that the poor man had a family waiting for him?”
We continued our trip towards Baghdad and we began to see more signs of the authorities’ control; IP patrols, multinational forces patrols and we started to feel safe again and the passengers were back to their ordinary conversations and some were pointing to the instability Baghdad is suffering from when compared to their province. The traffic was heavy and we had to move slowly and it was annoying to them because they don’t have traffic jams in Samawa and here one of the young passengers stood up in the middle of the bus and with nice acting moves he started to mockingly imitate some Baghdadis who appear on Jazeera complaining : No water!...no electricity!...no security!
The whole bus burst into laughter; this sentence became some kind of a joke for it was repeated a million times by some selected Baghdadis on Jazeera. The provinces started to feel somewhat superior after decades of strong control from Baghdad. I smiled, ok we’ve become a joke for them but it’s alright and it’s time for the rest of Iraqis to feel that Baghdad is not superior and they should have a bigger role now in representing and building this country.
However, I liked this young man little ‘play’ not just for this reason; his joke brought me hope and relief, as it shows -together with others response- that Iraqis are tired of complaining and do not approve of such behavior. When this comes along with acknowledging the deep troubles we are facing, it cannot but mean that they (most Iraqis) are saying “enough with the whining and maybe we should think of some solutions!” it’s obvious that such whining attitude has become ridiculous to most Iraqis. This thought made me happy but I still wonder when the media, arab and western are going to stop whining on behalf of the Iraqi people.