Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Days I do not want to forget.

The day, Monday the 31st. of March 2003.

It seems that the coalition forces have resumed their activities; today there is news about liberating Abu Al-Khassib by the British troops and that some other sectors of Basra have been secured.

The coalition troops engaged the Fedayeen near Najaf; a 100 of the Fedayeen were killed and the US marines lost one soldier.

The POW’s count is now 8000 and there are rumors telling that Ali Al-Majeed was injured in Nassiriyah. Qussay’s palace in Baghdad was bombed today.
The bombing continues on Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul.
GWB confirms once again “we will free Iraq”.

Today I enjoyed seeing the headquarters of the Fedayeen after it was bombed and leveled with the ground, the fragments and ashes covered the adjacent streets. I hate no one as I hate those Fedayeen; mentioning the crimes they committed is enough to make anyone tremble with fear and disgust.

Aircrafts are flying at very low altitudes today even one can easily identify the kind of the aircraft. I was in the garden with a friend of mine who is an ex pilot in the air force; he was fired from the Army in the 90’s because he hesitated once to obey an order. I asked him “can the pilot see me from this altitude?” he said “yes” so I stood in the middle of the garden and took a look at the neighbors’ roofs to see if anyone is watching me then I looked again at the aircraft and started to wave to the pilot. He should know that we’re on his side and we don’t fear him. My friend smiled and asked me to sit back “be sure, he saw you and he got your message” I insisted and asked my friend again “are you sure? Tell me the truth” he said “yes, yes, don’t be afraid. He saw you and he knew what you meant”.

-By Mohammed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

::I'm in the internet cafe' now and just a few minutes ago two groups of hummer vehicles passed the street and the soldiers were playing American songs through loud speakers mounted up the vehicle instead of the heavy machine gun. Everyone in the cafe' laughed, one guy added "wow, a free mobile concert!!. I hope all the patrols do the same" another guy said "that's why I want the occupation to last longer. he he. I wonder If the IP will do the same?!".

Giving peace a chance.

It felt like one of the shameful moments I’ve witnessed recently, when I saw Tony Blair shaking hands with Gaddafi. It was really a distressing scene. Why was that? Was it for real or just a show to buy time (on either part)?
I’m one of the people who believe firmly that the coalition led by the US and the UK is determined to eliminate terrorism and its originator; dictatorship, and Gaddafi is what I’ve always looked at as the comical version of S.H., still a very criminal and mad man.
So did the British prime minister believe that Gaddafi was sincere in changing his policy? I don’t think so. Does this mean that the strategy that includes getting rid of Gaddafi and his likes will go on? I believe so. Was Tony Blair a hypocrite then by shaking hands with the man he’s going to bring down or help in overthrowing soon? Not at all! There seems to be confusion here, but I believe that in every mess one can find an order.
Tony Blair knows very well that Gaddafi will remain… (Gaddafi), and the fact that he’s been acting nice only after Saddam was pulled out of that stinky whole, should tell us why he had suddenly changed his attitude, and that he will never go further that that without real pressure from outside. He certainly is not ready to give his people even the smallest space of freedom, and will drive them to the edge, where they will find the extremist mullahs waiting impatiently for the precious raw material to wrap an explosive belt around their bodies and send them to “heaven”, not before taking, God only knows where, who and how many innocent lives with them.
Of course Mr. Blair knows that better than me, so why is he ‘rewarding’ the dictator when he already knows that it’s just one step to delay fate and will not be followed by others? Seems like Mr. Blair is a hypocrite after all?! But no, knowing the outcome absolutely doesn’t mean planning it and everyone has the freedom to change once he decides, but will Gaddafi really change??
The problem that the coalition are facing here is that if they take an aggressive step towards Gaddafi, Assad or any other dictator, the madness of the ‘pacifist’ and the ‘antiwar’, anti American, anti Bush, anti everything, will have no limits and they have most of the media and many countries in the free world and some opportunistic politicians to back them as far and hard as they can. I can hear them saying” you are murdering the Libyan children”, and this will take me a little off topic maybe, but how come there are no huge demonstrations to protest against human rights violations in the 3rd world? Why not try to correct it yourself by pressuring the world to take a severe action against those dictators, instead of watching them, raping, torturing and slaughtering their own citizens? And then when the coalition would come to do the job, you are suddenly so keen on these poor people's lives and the human rights in Iraq is suddenly a major concern for you, when you know as we all know that the human rights in Iraq are a million times better than what it was at Saddam’s times.
Some people may take advantage of this scene now or in the future, saying that Mr. Blair launches a war against a ‘nation’ in the name of freeing people from dictatorship while he gives his blessing to another dictator! But that’s not the way it is. The way I see it, is that this witty and honest politician is saying to Gaddafi and to the world that such steps are welcomed, but there are many demands need to be answered before you can fit in the new world. There’s still more to be done, and after that, Gaddafi should be judged for his crimes against his people and the rest of the world. It seems that he doesn’t have a chance anyway and that’s true. He can chose between ending like Milosevic or like Saddam, and there’s absolutely no third choice.
Mr. Blair is giving peace a chance that he knows very well Gaddafi will not appreciate it, yet he has to do it. Of course Gaddafi is now not a real danger to the world peace and there are many other priorities, but he is a burnt out case, and he is a danger and a very serious one to his people. I wish to see the response of the people who opposed the war on Saddam because they 'were not told the real reasons', when they are forced to make a stance towards a war that is based on merely humanitarian causes. Will they support it? I'm afraid I have the answer and I just hope I'm wrong.

By Ali.

:: There was a report on Al-Arabiya news this morning about some rallies in Basra
organized by "Tha'ar Allah" Islamic organization. The news says that the British soldiers used "excessive force" to disperse the demostartors. Later I watched some pictures from Basra showing the event. Do you know what the "excessive force" was?!
Sticks, yes, the demostrators threw stones at the british soldiers who replied using sticks only. Later the soldiers engaged the emostartors and there was a fight with fists and kicks and the outcome of using "excessive force" was (bruises) only.
I wonder what would the outcome be and what would the security men use if demostrators went to the streets and attacked them in a sovereign Arab country?

Days I do not want to forget.

The day, Monday the 30th. Of March 2003.
Bombing the command centers in Baghdad continued with high intensity day and night and the ministry of information is targeted again today. The coalition troops ensure their determination to continue with the fighting and tighten the siege around Baghdad.
Small, sporadic fights continue around Nasiriyah, Najaf and Basra.
An Apache is said to be shot down in the south and the Iraqi TV broadcasts pictures for the helicopter but it seems to me that it was not shot down but rather landed because of some mechanical problem; the Apache is totally sound with no evidence of fire shot at it, nothing burnt, nothing wrecked and the TV story is very unconvincing “a farmer shot down an Apache with his primitive rifle”.
Today, the regime members added a new crime to their record. They were shooting at the civilians who escaped the city of Basra and there are pictures from the Pentagon showing the event.
In the streets there is news about executing Iraqi soldiers who decided to leave the battlefield and abandoned their positions.
This series of blood, horror, death and executions without trials is coming to an end and each criminal will be punished. Yes, we need the day of justice. Blood boils within our veins and we will not rest until those criminals get what they deserve. I know how their lust for blood increase when they feel endangered and I’m afraid they will commit something disastrous when they feel their end is coming and I’m sure they will try to kill as much people as they can before they get killed; you can’t trust a murderer.
I did my regular tour in the streets and I came up with the feeling that Iraqis are looking cautiously at what’s happening and there are rumors spreading about a long siege around Baghdad. The word (siege) is spreading in an enormous speed today, I’ve heard it everywhere and it was the core of our discussion tonight. How long this siege will last? What are our capabilities to face this serious challenge? We started to think more seriously that we’re endangered once Baghdad is surrounded. Something unusual happened as we were talking; one of my friends said, “OK, enough talking about the war and politics and let’s enjoy hearing a song and seeing a beautiful girl. I miss this so much” everybody agreed and we switched the TV to a melody channel that made discussion take an entirely different course!

By Mohammed.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Days I do not want to forget.

The 29th of March 2003

Today’s news upset me very much. The coalition forces stop their march towards Baghdad for the few coming days, despite that a military American spokesman denies that and speaks about rearrangement and redistribution. The truth is that I don’t feel good about all this because it gives a chance to Saddam and his propaganda in and outside Iraq to speak about their 'bravery and strength' and how they 'forced' the coalition troops to stop.

The coalition forces establish 12 centers for distributing humanitarian aids in the southern of Iraq and Kuwait supplies Basra with fresh water through a newly established pipeline.

News still talk about a bombing to military targets on the line between Mosul and Kurdistan. I think the northern front is about to be opened and this will, surely, strengthen the siege on Saddam, but there’s still very little effort on this front and I don’t know why the coalition don’t allow the Kurdish militia to take part in the operations. There seems to be an American decision that the Iraqi opposition groups should not take part in the liberation, although I’m not sure about that yet.

The good news today is the control of (Ali’s airbase) in Nassireah and the landing of the 1st American airplane there. This will sure aid in the logistic support of the troops and will make it easier for the coalition to use their short ranged attacking airplanes more effectively.

Iraq fires a silkworm-missile on Kuwait and hits a trading center without causalities. China has now to clarify how Saddam got these missiles!

Bombing continues on Baghdad to target again the communication centers and the ministry of culture and information. There were also successful raids on the republican guard division (Al-Madina Al-Monawara)

Tonight the chatting was depressing. The news speaks about a disagreement between the American defense ministry and the central command about the plan to liberate Iraq. Most of the discussion was about this issue. Some said that the Americans didn’t prepare well for this battle and others said that these people know exactly what they are doing and that they earned those stars on their shoulders, and cannot be compared to the illiterate people commanding the Iraqi troops. Here our host, who was really depressed couldn’t stand it anymore and stood up and shouted” where the h*** is Schwartzkov? We need him NOW!!”

We looked at each other and struggled to keep our laughter inside. He stared at each one of us and said “YES, it’s only Shwartzkov who can kick Saddam’s a**” my friend, his son, laughed out loud and said “dad, it’s not a football match to call for (Ammo Baba)”*

* Ammo Baba is a famous Iraqi soccer coach who was hated by Oday, but nevertheless when the Iraqi football team didn’t perform well in any competition, Oday would call for him to fix the trouble.

-By Mohammed.

Days I do not want to forget.

The 28th of March 2003.
The American president says that the justice day will follow the freedom day and that all the war criminals who terrorized the Iraqi people, will be judged.
Rumsfeld says “remember the faces of your oppressors, we will need your testimony”
I really wish that. Our freedom will not be complete without justice being served and the criminals should be judged for every crime and every atrocity, so that what happened will not happen again.

Today a direct strike was launched at the Ba’athists in Basra. One of the raids targeted a place where about 200 members of the Ba’ath party were holding a meeting. It seems that the intelligence of the coalition is doing its job in Basra and it seems that they are getting some help. The important thing is that we got rid of some of the criminals and we will not have to remember their faces Mr. Rumsfeld, they got their share before the justice day.

Another successful raid to the coalition targets a convoy of the republican guards and destroys it entirely.
Today the evil propaganda center was hit also (the ministry of lies and stupidity).
The 1st British ship carrying humanitarian aids reach the port of Om Qasir.
Bombing continues all around the clock in Baghdad.

A friend of mine asked me today to help him in setting up a satellite dish receiver. He said he couldn’t stay away from the events as the local radio channels blind one even more. We agreed to do that after sunset so that we can do that without being noticed by the neighbors. I went with another friend (Ahmed) to my friend’s house soon as it was dark. We asked our friend to bring a TV device to the roof to help us knowing the correct direction and catch the signal. The dish was the fixed type, without a motor to move it and it was easy to direct it towards Arab sat. After about 15 minutes from start, a heavy bombing started. We were looking at the sky and the fires of the anti-aircraft weapons right above our heads lightened it. This usually tells us about the direction of the missiles or airplanes as these weapons follow them and send signals to the other batteries depending on mere vision. Ok, it seems that the missiles are heading in our direction. Suddenly we heard a strong whirr. This was the 1st time I hear a missile passing directly and this low above my head. This should mean that it’s just about to land somewhere very near. All this passed in our minds in a fraction of a second. We threw ourselves to the ground and put our hands above our heads. These were truly scary moments. A bright red light flashed in the sky lightening the whole area and the night turned to what looks like a day light followed immediately by an enormous blast and a shocking wave that we felt through the ground and in the air. The whole house shook violently for a second. We stood up to see the fire that was coming from the area that was hit by the missile. It was the nearby switch. Our eyes were wide open and my friend’s family was screaming at us telling their son to bring us inside the house immediately. Just before deciding to do that, we heard a similar whirr at the same distance. We threw ourselves to the ground again. There was no time to go inside. I closed my eyes waiting for the sound of the explosion. You can never get used to these sounds. Another huge blast and a shock wave, followed by a 3rd missile passing at the same distance. We were confused and didn’t know how to act. We saw the fire and parts of the building that was hit fly in the air before falling as small fireballs. Our host forgot about us and ran as fast as he could to go inside the house, leaving us there, but he was surprised to see that his parents had locked the door that leads to the house!! He stood there knocking at the door, but no one opened, they were paralyzed by fear. Despite all the fear and how scared we were, we laughed from our hearts. “See Ahmed what fear can do? They abandoned their own son!” laughing at ourselves is the only weapon we have at such times to overcome our fears!

The raid was still going on targeting places near to our location. We ran and tried to hide under a window type air conditioner that was extending outside for about 30-cm. We glued ourselves to the wall beside it and pushed our heads beneath it. With all our bodies, except our heads exposed, our host turned to us after losing hope in his parents, and now it was his turn to burst out laughing at our position.
The raid finally stopped and we finished our job, still laughing at each other and at ourselves. Fear made us act like children.

-By Mohammed.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Days I do not want to forget.

Day 8 the 27th of March 2003.

The coalition forces announce that they are going to expand on their operation soon after the whether improves.

It seems that I was very optimistic about how long this will take. The speed in which the troops moved inside Iraq in the 1st few days was astonishing that it made me think that the battle will take no more than one week, and here we are finishing the 1st week and it looks like it’s been more than a month.
The events that took place during this week have been more than what I’ve seen in years. There could be weeks in our lives that pass without even feeling them, but a week like this cannot be easily forgotten.

Why does the whether have to be this bad and at theses times! This is exactly what we’ve been missing, that the nature works with Saddam!
An American-British assembly to discuss the future of Iraq after the war.
The future can never be worse than the past, that’s for sure, but I think the assembly comes to ascertain the others the determination of the coalition to make the change and that the issue is settled and the others should think about the future of Iraq.

I for myself cannot think about the future because I can’t leave the moment that I’m living, but I’ll sneak a look into the future and smile, imagining how it will be without Saddam and the Ba’ath.

Today, some friends from the western part half of Baghdad came to visit us. I was very happy to see them and we didn’t stop talking and congratulating each other for being safe (so far). Everyone has something to say about what he has seen and everyone saw so many unusual scenes. One of my friends was very impressed with the accuracy of the bombing. Mistakes are actually none so far, but everyone knows that most of these targets were not used by the regime, because they are now using alternative positions like mosques and schools and abandoned civilian buildings. My father, who came by to say hello, shared with us his opinion on this subject as a former military officer. He said, “These alternative position cannot offer more than 50% of what the original positions do, therefore the purpose of such strikes is to deprive the authority from half of its capabilities, as the alternative position were made in haste and soon these also will be exposed, and then they’ll have to change them, and the capabilities get less and less with each change” everyone saw that the idea was convincing but there is still the desire to see Saddam get killed by a direct attack.

Bombing still targets the outskirts of Baghdad where the major military facilities and the republican guards are located.
Today the communication facilities were bombed, to cut the phone lines between Baghdad and the other governerates and many switches stopped functioning inside Baghdad.

-By Mohammed.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Inheriting freedom and deserving it.

On many occasions, Iraqis were accused of being not able to understand or practice democracy and that they’ll need decades to fully absorb the concept. I myself had similar doubts. While when the argument goes about other nations (especially Europe) the Europeans are supposed to be very much ahead of Iraqis in this field and Europe is usually considered as a “sun of democracy”.
So, what is democracy?

In my opinion, a nation is called democratic when the citizens of this nation practice their right to decide their future and to choose the proper policy to build that future.
On the other hand, a nation cannot be considered democratic when the citizens of that nation are forced to adopt a certain attitude or to obey orders under the influence or the threat of an intrinsic or extrinsic overwhelming power.

If we assume that these distinctions between democracy and any other form of ruling a country; tyranny, theocracy, dictatorship…etc. are acceptable we’ll end up with horrifying predictions about Europe and at the same time optimistic ones about Iraq!

Iraqis were many times blamed by some of the free world citizens for being cowards and failing to stick together to topple Saddam, which seemed to those free people (who were born free) as the most natural reaction to tyranny!! Well I couldn’t agree more. However they forgot that they themselves had never practiced that and that they owe their freedom to the previous generations and they had only to enjoy it, a very hard task I suppose!

But truly, they do have a hard task and that is to maintain and defend their freedom, which their nations had to do whenever confronted with a serious threat and they were successful so far. Some very kind people say that they’re a shamed of taking their freedom for granted, and I have all the faith that these same people will be the best defenders of what they inherited through the sacrifices of their fathers.
On the other hand we have those who inherited freedom without even being aware of that, they just practice it and bash anyone for not fighting for it, which is so right as everyone should fight for his freedom, but the question is will they fight to defend their freedom?

The frightening thing about the Europeans is that their “sun of democracy” seems to be fading away and more frightening is that they’re not realizing in which direction they’re moving. From their point of view, they’re enjoying the achievements of the democracy and freedom they earned after decades of struggle. From my point of view, I think they’re on their way to loose what they have or more correctly, had. They (and of course I’m talking about some European countries, not the whole continent) are obeying direct orders from an evil power and taking the attitudes that that power desires to see after they were terrorized when confronted with real, mad and meaningless terrorism.

Let’s take a look back at Iraqis. They were saved from what seemed an endless torture, oppression and bloody crimes under the past regime and till now they’re suffering a lot more from terrorism than any other nation.

So what did they decide to do about it, and how do they feel about this situation?
They decided to walk the way to the end. They feel angry with terrorists doing all this damage to their lives and most important, they know who’s to blame and who’s behind the hardships they fight.

Iraqis made up their minds without any pressure from any power and they leading their country forward and they’re cooperating with the coalition and the GC not because they’re forced to do so. Iraqis now have the freedom of speech for the first time since decades and after they tasted freedom they will never accept to be slaves to anyone again, not for terrorists for sure and even not for the US or any coming government if they felt that the US or the present or future Iraqi administration is working against Iraqis’ interests. I’m sure that if Iraqis felt that the US or the GC are not respecting their rights they will go out to the streets in millions not thousands to voice their complain.

They’re ruling their country by their patience, courage and hope.
Although Iraqis didn’t have the chance to vote in elections yet but they’re showing that they’re willing to do everything to make that happen and once it happens they’ll defend it with their souls and blood because they earned it through the sacrifices they made and still making.

-By Omar.

Days I do not want to forget.

Day 7 the 26th of march 2003.

Bombing resumed since dawn and continued for hours with almost no stop at all. The skies were so red which made the lights that shined from the houses look blue. It seems that the bad whether is going to hinder the operations for a while which made me depressed today. It’s going to take longer than we hope. This forced me and my father to re-check our stores of food, water and fuel. We replaced the stored water which we had used every container we had to store it in, for cleaning purposes, taking advantage of the water supply that hasn’t been affected yet, since we don’t know how long it’ll last. We started reconsidering some of our plans of how to deal with the worse.

This delay is making rumors spread again about how serious the Americans are. People seem to be so desperate, which I think why they are discouraged with this unfortunate delay in operations. We are even hearing about a secret deal between Saddam and the US in which he gives up the southern oil wells in return for keeping his power and control over the central areas of Iraq. This idea shocks me with its naivety and I didn’t even bother to explain to the guy who told me about it, except giving him one hint. I told him that this is much more than the oil fields and I disagree with him on what he says. The man said” Saddam lost the battle and he’s giving what they want from him” and I replied “you said it yourself; Saddam has lost the battle, so why do you think a super power, the only superpower, will negotiate with a defeated dictator and accept his terms when she can have whatever she want?” he shook his head and said “I don’t know! But Saddam doesn’t give up this easy and he’s ready to offer anything in return for staying in power” I told him that the issue had been settled before (the 1st bullet was fired) and negotiation was possible only before the war has begun. He said, “Then what is this deal that people talk about?” I told him that it’s most probably that the regime is behind it, to show us that the issue is not settled yet, so they are trying to tell us, “don’t start anything foolish”

Today the major media focused on the battle that took near Najjaf and showed some pictures from the scene. I think it’s the first time the Fedayeen and the Ba’athists try to take an aggressive move, only to be slaughtered by the coalition forces and nearly a thousand of the attackers or at least hundreds got killed according to the news so far. This shows how stupid they are. They went to fight the American army with buses and cars carrying light arms!! I heard that the commander of the southern area ordered this attack and that he was killed too. He was trying to please his master!

Another good news is that American forces has landed in the northern area in considerable numbers, and I think this should mean that another front is about to be opened.

Another battle took place near Nassireah and this time the coalition forces faced regular army soldiers. The battle also led to the death and surrender of hundreds of the regime army. However it’s not the major war the media are trying to show it to the world; so far it’s just a few hundreds fighting sporadically without order and without a previously made plan. Till now the battlefield has shown no real activity by the army Saddam was boasting about.

The bombing was also heavy today and one of the targets was the center of the Iraqi satellite TV channel that is located so near to our neighborhood. The explosion was the worst I heard since the beginning of the war. The blast was huge and the sky was lightened almost entirely for a few moments. There were 3 missiles, but one of them was different. We knew that because the explosion didn’t shake the doors and windows as usual, but instead it was the ground that shook beneath our feet in a strange way. I think this is one of what they named (bunker buster) those missiles designed to penetrate the ground and explode below the target or inside it if it was a shelter. The explosion was very strange and not familiar at all; a thrill that comes from the ground to go through your body via your feet.

Ali called me and said laughing "come on and watch this!” the picture of the TV reporter “Nihad Najeeb” had frozen in a funny deviated way. It didn’t disappear or move, he just stood there for hours and every time we turn the TV to the Iraqi channel, and see that it’s still the same, we burst out laughing. Their filthy mouth was silenced forever in a disgracing manner.

Tonight we talked in our regular meeting about what we had heard in the morning. Can it really be a limited operation!? We all agreed that it was a stupid question and that it’s all over (yet we asked it!! I think the reason is that we are so edgy and anxious to see the end).

-By Mohammed.

Days I do not want to forget.

I'm sorry for not posting yesterday, but that was for (good) reasons.

Day 6 the 25th of March 2003.

Today carried big headlinlies.
-Basra is a military target. This is what the British forces announced, together with full control of Om-Qasr and Basra international airport. News about an uprising in some areas of Basra.

-The coalition forces reach about 80 km. To the south of Baghdad and news about combating Al-Madina Al- Munawarar republican guard division. It seems that Baghdad battle is about to begin despite the continuing bad whether.

We still have water and power supply and phone lines are still working. There are no fuel crises its control on the. There’s still a large doubt among people concerning the final objectives of the operation behind this battle. “Are they serious this time” it’s not easy to imagine the possible consequences of the regime fall. It’s been here for 35 years. How would it look like without it? This is more than a dream and it’s more than we can imagine.

Today a friend of my father visited us. He works in a high position in the air defence command. My father started saying” you have to be more careful with those SAM missiles, they’re falling without any guidance and killing people ” the man said ” we do not run the system fully, we can’t let the radars work for a long time, because they’ll be targeted immediately! We just shoot these rockets without radar guidance to prove to Saddam that we are not traitors. He had put execution squads from the 'Fedayeen' in every missiles battery to watch the officers once the raids start. That’s why we fire those missiles and we know they may well cause serious damage and deaths, but we can’t disobey Saddam”
That officer was sure that this battle will bring with it the end of Saddam, and when we told him that most of the south is now under the control of the coalition forces from what we see on TV, and how the people are destroying Saddam’s pictures in Om-Qasr, we felt that he was afraid and wanted someone to tell him what would probably be the result because he was in a very sensitive position. He trusted my father’s judgment, so he came with many questions. I left them together so that he can feel free to ask without getting embarrassed.

The bombing continued all day and I was able this time to see the airplanes in the sky. They were flying relatively at a low altitude. They were their all the time.
-The raids today resulted in the destruction of the local TV station, which led to sudden stop of the broadcast. This is very important. They decided to carry on by broadcasting only through radio stations. People also depended on Al-Alam Iranian TV that we could easily get in Baghdad. This channel has become the favorite for many Iraqis since it shows news rather than stupid poetry and slogans like those of the Iraqi leadership. It seems Saddam thinks that he can win this battle by words, not to mention the 'patriotic songs' which we became famous in, as we, as people put it, the land of the million patriotic song, and of course all of those were devoted to glorify Saddam rather than Iraq.

Some of our daily routines started to change. We, now, sleep few hours at night and try to compensate by sleeping few hours in the afternoon. We prepare every day for a long gathering and discussion that never ends and crosses all the lines.
The night has become very long.

-By Mohammed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Days I do not want to forget.

Day 5 the 24th of March 2003.

I woke up at dawn after the sound of a massive explosion rocked our house to hear short after that, the voice of the sheikh in the mosque saying the prayers he was ordered to say. He sounded sleepy, tired and exhausted. What happened? He used to say those prayers loud and clear with the start of every raid and now raids continue all around the clock. The man's voice got hoarse but it seems that he has chose to say his prayers only following close explosion near his mosque. I guess he's praying for himself rather than his leader.

With light I saw a strange scene that I don't think I ever saw nor do I think it will happen again. Several colors mixed in the skies to give an odd color that made it a very depressive view. A red sandy storm that I've never seen like before mixed with the black color of the smoke coming from the burned oil-filled ditches, and the smoke that results from explosions and jet fighters. Nature and battle combined their efforts to make a painting that was very gloomy.

We went shopping despite the sandy whether. I warned my friends not to buy any milk products or meat from now on because I don't think they have been producing anything new for probably a week, and that from now on we should depend mainly on the stored food. No one listened to my advice which seems to be not appropriate at the time!! There are more serious hazards.

We heard today that the fire in the one of the oil-wells was extinguished and that humanitarian aid are flowing to the southern of Iraq, but the really exciting news was that the coalition forces are now about 100 km to the south of Baghdad. We couldn't define on the map which spot they were talking about, but I think the troops are close now to the republican guards' forces that encircles Baghdad and by this average, it seems we are only few days away before the coalition reaches Baghdad.

One of the rumors I heard today on the streets was that America is preparing for printing the new bank notes for the after-Saddam period. People on the streets are now balder in their discussions and it seems that the sounds of the air planes above our heads that rarely stop make us them feel how close the end is. We are still afraid of the regime dogs that still search for some reward on our account. We are hearing about executions to some Iraqis who work for the coalition forces inside Baghdad by providing information about certain targets.

The bombing continued during the day despite the bad weather.
The night meeting with the friends was in my friend's house. We are missing the extensive bombing in the 1st 4 days. We need extreme force and that would be the only thing that would end this soon. Saddam will not surrender easily. He doesn't speak nor does he understand any language other than violence. He seized power by violence, ruled by violence and will not be removed by anything other than extreme force.

-By Mohammed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Mourning our slayers.

I couldn’t mourn you and I couldn’t feel sorry for you. You’re an old crippled man, you’re an Arab like me, a ‘Muslim’ like me, and you fought most of your life for what you believed in. You were imprisoned for a long time and you were murdered; yet I couldn’t mourn you!
You know why? I’ll tell you why:

I’ve always took the side of the weak, poor and oppressed people if for no other reason, then simply because I’ve lived most of my life like them and I can’t argue that the Palestinian people have rights that are still missing. Some people will say that it’s because of their doing, but I don’t want to get into the huge complications of this conflict. I just want to point why and when did I loose sympathy with people like Ahmad Yassin.

Whatever we think about this conflict and whatever side we take, none of us can deny that there is a problem and it’s far from easy to determine how to solve it and who has the right in this or that. People have different opinions that spread through a spectrum where you can find millions who consider a man like Scheckh Yassin a saint and you can find millions who consider him a Satan as well as a small portion with less extreme opinions.

Palestinians had chosen different ways of pursuing what they considered their legitimate rights before the birth of Israel. Some of them chose to fight, others chose political struggle and the negotiation table and some joined the new state and pursued their rights taking advantage of the democratic nature of Israel and made it as high as can be expected, still supporting the rights of their people as well as the rights of their ‘new’ country.

I don’t want to go into the details of this intricate conflict, but I want to say that those- who chose to fight by convincing people (mostly teenagers and young men) in suicide, in the hope that during this they can murder the largest possible number of civilians; men, women elderly and children- deserve no mourning and no sympathy.

These people (Yassin alike) argue that civilians-usually Israeli and Americans- are partners in what they consider crimes against their people (Arab or Muslims), because they elected their governments and they support their actions. I say; I’ll go with you this far and suppose that you are victims to Israel and America and thus you have the right to fight and kill the American and Israeli men and women. But, what about their CHILDREN?? What about YOUR children who you send to death while they kill Israeli children? What about that 15 year old girl you convinced her of committing suicide in order to kill other people, including children?

You claim that all children are born Muslims and that their parents raise them to be Christians or Jews. If we follow your rules and believe your words, you’ll be killing Muslim children!! How can you explain that to yourself before trying to explain it to the others? I’ve asked this question to all those who support the suicidal attacks and NONE could have an answer. The best they could come up with is that these suicidal bombers do not intend to kill children and that it happens accidentally!! Don’t they have eyes that can recognize a child? And why do they pick buses when they know that it’s very likely that some children will be there?

You have not only disgraced yourselves and betrayed Gods words; you have hurt your people, the Muslims, more than anyone else. You made every Muslim a suspect in the eyes of the world and I will never feel sorry for you.

What will you tell God when he asks you about all the children you have killed? And you expect to go to heaven!?!? And that should be the same heaven those children, your victims, will go to?! Why do I find this hard to believe!??

I know what some of you will say and I know that some will probably like to ‘make their way to heaven’ by killing me and people like me, but I’m not afraid of you and this needed to be said. Your beards and your headscarf don not make you closer to God than anybody else, that’s if you still remember God and if he still remembers you. God had abandoned you a long time ago; at least since the moment you started killing his purest creatures. I’m still a Muslim (in my own way probably) and I know Islam better than be deceived by your lies and join you in your hatred for all who are non-Muslim. This is not Islam, not the way I know it and not the way God wanted it to be. You are Islam’s worst enemies and your screams, your prayers and even giving your own lives (and especially this) don’t impress anyone, and I’m still the Muslim and you are the…no, 'infidels' are MUCH better than you. Infidels or non-believers don’t take children’s lives and claim that they do it to please God. In fact most of whom you call infidels proved to be very human and very merciful!

For the Muslims who support such people out of sympathy or better say religious fanaticism, I’ll speak in your logic and say that everyone who support, cheer, sympathize or mourn people like Bin laden and Yassin are their partners in their crimes and that can make the people who marched to mourn Yassin, murderers and terrorists.

When you marched yesterday, you reminded me of the scene of the masses who marched in Abdul Nassir funeral. For how long are we going to cheer our slayers and weep them when God rid us of them!? Stop this stupidity and have some brains or at least listen to your hearts and ask yourselves what child deserves to be murdered?? People like Bin Laden, Yassin and Zagrawi have crossed the line that separates fighters from murderers a long time ago and if you followed them when they were fighting, then there’s absolutely nothing that should make you follow them blindly as they cross ALL the lines, not being stopped by any human value.

When you support an action this means that you are ready, willing or at least accepting that you can do it. Are you ready, willing or do you accept to murder a child? If no, then reconsider your attitude, because that’s what you are showing the rest of the world.

No, I’ll never mourn you, Yassin, and I’ll never feel sorry for you even if you were my own blood and flesh. I’ll not mourn you, but I mourn the people who mourned you. I don’t feel sorry for you but I feel sorry for them.

I feel sad, but not for you. I feel sad for those who marched yesterday to mourn you (at least many of them). I want to say, “You’re not my enemies, not yet. I still believe that you may regain your consciousness and look at the truth, even if it shows you how wrong you were. You are not the victims of America or Israel, you are the victims of your tyrants and your mullahs and I hope you realize this before it’s too late, before you turn from victims into criminals.” Yes, I don’t know why, but I still have hope in this.

-By Ali.

Days I do not want to forget.

Day 4 the 23rd of March 2003.
The clouds of black smoke that comes from those burned oil-filed holes, still covers most of the skies of Baghdad with its suffocating smell.

The coalition troops keep their advance towards Baghdad, but what really brought joy to me was a scene I’ll never forget; as those troops were advancing fast through the main highway, Iraqis lined on the side of the road to wave for them. Let the whole world watch and know that we wait impatiently for that moment when we finally become free.

On the other hands, what annoyed me was this terrible propaganda by the Arab media as they cheer the regime and talk about 'our just cause'. How much did he pay those pigs? The day that will silence these filthy mouths is near, when they’ll be exposed to the whole world.

I couldn’t keep watching TV, so I looked at the map again. Are they near Najjaf or closer than this? News speaks about battles to the north of Basra and to the north of Nassiryah. No one can tell where they are now; mystery still surrounds the movement of the coalition troops.

Tikrit was targeted today by air raids and I heard, during my usual tour downtown, people whisper to each other about the tyrant being wounded during the 1st strike and that there’s a possibility that a top-ranked command member may be killed at the same attack.

The number of the regime destroyed command centers keeps increasing every day,
It’s 5 p.m. and a heavy bombing is resumed. Series of huge explosions shakes our house and the sound of airplanes never stops.
Omar and I were trying to guess the distance and direction of the explosions and the possible target in the specified area. We went to the roof and saw the smoke caused by the last explosion and I guess it’s the ministry of defense, which is situated exactly in that area. We’ve become pretty good in this, we can now judge from the sound and the direction from which the smoke rose which is the most possible target.

I was shocked as Ali told me to hurry up and watch what the Saddam’s TV was showing. It was a disgusting scene; dead bodies of coalition soldiers. They were piled together in one car to make it uglier. Then they showed them again laid on the ground from all direction and the photographer and the reporter were showing that they are enjoying it. They love death and this is their favorite scene as it was obvious from the memories of the Iraq Iran- war where they used to show us the sight of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dead bodies, many of them burnt or disfigured. We still suffer from those scenes and it’s obviously their plan to make us sick by doing that.

Followed that sickening view, there was a stupid interrogation, which lacks any ethics, done with the help of a terrible interpreter to some prisoners. It seems that they couldn’t bring them to Baghdad and had to make this clip in a hurry in Nassiryah. The regional bath party commander was so elated and those soldiers looked confused and frightened. I don’t think they’ll stay alive, as when things will go tough, Saddam will most probably execute them like he did to the Kuwaiti or maybe he’ll use them as hostages, but their position is very hard. It appeared that they belonged to an engineering battalion and that somehow they lost their way. They were not a fighting unit.

It didn’t take long until GWB threatened Iraqi authorities firmly from any abuse to the prisoners.

The night came and carried with it the severity of the bombing but tonight the focus seems to be on the outskirts of Baghdad where most of the republican guards are placed. It became usual during every night to gather all; me, Omar, Ali, my father and some friends and neighbors to watch the latest development and try to analyze the situation, spending time encouraging each other. Tonight we agreed that our meetings should be arranged to take place in each one of our houses in turn.

In such moments one can’t keep his thoughts, fears and expectations inside him. We all felt this enormous need to talk and talk and talk until we become out of breath. Everyone wants to share what is going in his mind with the rest. Our tension is very big and we depend on each other to keep our spirit high in order to face the huge events we are passing through which is much greater than our psychological capabilities if left alone. It’s not easy to get used to the feel of the battle and one needs to keep balance. We needed each other help.

-By Mohammed.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Days I do not want to forget.

Day 3 the 22nd of March 2003.

A strange-looking morning in Baghdad. I went out to our garden where I usually have my tea as an important daily routine, to see the skies dark and the light blocked by ugly looking and poisonous smelling black clouds. I looked around and saw that these clouds were everywhere. They were not the smoke that usually results from explosions, but one of the tyrant’s stupid plans. He had set fire in the previously prepared and filled with oil trenches that were situated all around Baghdad without the slightest concern about people’s health. It didn’t occur to him what such poisoned air may do to a man with asthma, for instance.

The criminal wants to poison everything in an attempt to blind the missiles that followed him and his deputies everywhere. It was a disgusting scene and a suffocating atmosphere. I couldn’t stay at home so I went out despite that the air attacks were still going all around the day, but what is noticeable today is that the alarm siren started to be terribly late and many times went a long time after the raid would start and sometimes never even responded. It seems that they are really shocked and are in total imbalance.

The streets were almost normal and people were shopping and cars were still passing, carrying people to their works. This was accompanied by an abundant presence of all kinds of security forces. I was with a friend when we decided to see the effects of last night’s strikes. We passed beside some of the targets that were hit in the last night. Light smoke was still coming out of some of them. 1st we went to take a look at the military intelligence main headquarters that lays at the western bank of the Tigress river. The damage was not clear from that distance where we stood but as we drove nearer we saw one of its buildings had totally collapsed. We went to see the general security headquarters. We could hardly hide our smiles of triumph. Ok, it seems that the main national Ba’ath party headquarters was hit directly. This is the 3rd time this building get bombed in the past ten years. We passed near one of those oil-filled holes, which were burning near the highway, and we felt its heat strongly on our skin.

A black sign caught my attention; it was mourning the death of “Naief Shintaf” a senior Baathist who was killed in Najjaf. It seems that the missiles know their way pretty well and this is your share” Naief”. I don’t know how many innocent people you killed to get Saddam’s trust and to get your high position, palaces and all other privileges, but now it’s payback time.

I went back home to follow the news and the top story is that the American troops in turkey had to change their plans and head for the red sea. I didn’t find it strange from the Turkish government, they had special care from Saddam in trading and it seems they want enough compensation. I call it blackmail and I’m sure they’ll regret it. I’ll never forgive the governments of the neighboring countries that built their fortune by sucking our blood. God, I despise them.

The American air force bombs the strongholds of “Ansar Al-Islam” in the Kurdish areas and kills many of them. The Kurds declare their readiness and willingness to fight with the coalition. The good news is that the coalition forces are now controlling most of the oil wells in the south and start their efforts to extinguish 7 of these who are still burning. All right, one of the “hostages” is free now. One of Saddam’s hostages was our fortune; he was willing to burn it. How many crimes do you have to commit, Saddam, so that the whole world could be convinced that you are the devil himself!?

The coalition forces control the Basra international airport and intermittent fighting in Om Qasir. I remember this small town where we lived for few months. What’s the meaning of their fighting? I don’t believe it’s the Iraqi army, but most probably the local ba’athists and Oday’s fydaeen. It’s a small isolated town and living far away from ANY civilization. I remember a joke in Basra that says when a traffic lights were placed for the first time in this town, the local people used to take their dinner and go for a trip to sit near that single traffic light watching it for a long time and it was such an amusement for them to see how the lights change on their own regularly!!! Now this town is famous all over the world and the regime is betting on her resistance!!!

Now the planes were dropping innumerable small posters promising humanitarian aids and warn the army commanders from obeying Saddam’s orders once he decides to use chemical weapons.

One of the Ba’athists in our neighborhood rang my neighbor’s bell and my friend went out and looked at him saying “what do you want?” and the Ba’athist said” there are some enemy posters over that tree in your house, let me go inside and pick them to burn them” my friend laughed and said “don’t worry, I’ll pick them myself” it was a funny scene to see them running in the streets trying to gather these posters in order to burn them! However I managed to keep some of them for memories.
The night came bringing again the sounds of fear and horror; dozens of missiles falling all over Baghdad. We were shacking with each explosion. The bombing was heavy and I wonder where “the leaders” spend their night? I don’t think the last night bombing left them any proper place to sleep in. they couldn’t stay even in the schools and houses they moved into as a substitute position. Whenever a wave of bombing starts almost everyone take shelter in their houses except those wretches, they couldn’t feel safe inside and you could see them running as fast as they can outside their temporary position with each start of a wave of bombing, they couldn’t feel safe anywhere.

Another night full of tension, different feelings crowd inside us; fear, hope and anticipation. My head has no place for anything more.

-By Mohammed.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

A stupid question.

When I saw the anti-war rallies that took place in many parts of the world in the annual anniversary of the war against Saddam, I couldn’t help thinking again, why are they doing this!? There were some but considerably smaller one or two demos. In Iraq (few hundreds led by some religious fanatics who no one could've known about them if it wasn't for the watchful eyes of the media) which was supposed to be the country those pacifist were defending.

I’ve had some difficulty in understanding the motives of the pacifists to stop this war and now to stop the coalition led by the USA from helping, rebuilding and promoting democracy in Iraq, and I’m sure there were many of those who were paid off or simply misled, but that doesn’t cover even the majority of the pacifist, as I’ve always thought that those were good people with a great sense of humanity and were noble enough to dismiss bribery and more intelligent than can be misled.

The answer to this question became less obscure as time and events revealed much of what was difficult for me to perceive from my place at the first look. The way the majority of the pacifists reacted to those events showed some of the missing part of the picture. I still think they are good people and not stupid at all but there’s one thing I can’t give them a credit for and that is honesty. I’m sorry, my friends but this may have been considered the strongest point in your position, or so you thought, but if you allow me to navigate through your conscience and care to have the patience and modesty to join me in this journey-which is what should be expected from honest people- then maybe we can reach an agreement on re-stating our points of disagreement and define more accurately were we disagree and this, as I believe, should be for the benefit of all. There’s no need to add that you have the right to do the same with me and I’m more than willing to go with you all the way.

Now why would I judge you so harshly and what facts and evidences do I have to support my belief?

To start with, I think I, as everyone else agree with you that war is a very unpleasant and most often a disastrous option to solve struggles, but I think we also agree that sometimes it’s the only available option. This allows us to minimize the field of our debate to this war on Saddam and to some others maybe to the way in dealing with terrorism that we support so strongly and you appose similarly. I think that once 2 nations went to war to settle their conflict instead of resorting to diplomacy, we would both stand against this war; unless you believe that the majority of us support this war to satisfy our lust for blood shed.

Since we are now talking about your stance, let’s take a look at why do you (the true pacifists) oppose this war.

I think that most agree that when we talk about the (true pacifists) then we are pointing to those living in the free world, as the 3rd world people are either disinterested and busy in trying to feed their children and find an appropriate shelter for their families, while they struggle to stay as far as possible away from the tyrannies that control their fate, which may force them to follow their governments attitude, or they are driven by religious fanaticism, and in the Arab world probably by Arab nationalism to stand against this war.

Peace is what those (true pacifists) are struggling for and there can be no nobler goal than this, but may I ask one questions here?

Where do you live!? A stupid and irrelevant question? I don’t think so.

Which peace are you seeking? Yours or that of the world, and which order you are trying to maintain? That of your countries or of the whole world? Do you really think that it’s such a wonderful and peaceful world that no one should be allowed to mess with? But what a stupid question is that on my part!! Of course it is! I mean some of you probably hadn’t heard a gun shot in months or years, and some of you live in countries that haven’t fought any war in more than a century.

Your lives certainly have not been that easy for sure, but did you ever fear that your children might starve to death? Or did you live your life with the horror of a kick that break your doors open, in the middle of the night, to take you or one of your family members to the unknown? And worse than that- which seems to you not a big deal- did you have to bend your heads and fix your eyes to the ground and never raise it fearing it may meet those of a security guard and get misinterpreted as a challenge!!? Oh my God! Here I go asking stupid questions again! As of course all of this is not a big deal, because if you felt it is such a huge injustice and a humiliation to the sacred soul inside each one of God’s creatures, not to mention human beings, you wouldn’t wait SO patiently for the sanctions to work and for the inspectors to finish their job. Of course it’s not a big deal, and you know why? Simply because it didn’t happen to YOU. It happened to the others who lived so far away that it made it less real for you and you simply could throw all these behind you when you come to discuss the war, and ONLY now, you are suddenly worried about how the Americans are treating us!!? I have one thing to answer that: the Americans don’t 'treat' us; they help, protect, teach, love and make friends with us. Hard to swallow for you, I know, because it makes you look so bad to yourselves, but that’s not as bad as it seems since we all make mistakes and HUGE ones and it’s never too late to admit that we were wrong.
Am I so stupid and naive to expect you to change your minds? No, because I still believe that you are good people and I’m relying on this when I say that I have hope in you and will never look to you as enemies.

Just think again about all the pain and sufferings in this world and this time imagine yourself picking the bones of your sons, daughters or brothers from a mass grave after loosing their track in a dark night 20 or 30 years ago and knowing that they didn’t even die peacefully, NO, they were tortured, raped and treated like animals and forced to beg for mercy to have it as a bullet in the head. This happened, and not only in Iraq and is still happening elsewhere in this ‘wonderful’ world. Think of that and try telling my neighbor- for instance, who is still looking for the mass grave that hold his 2 sons’ bones who were taken away from him 21 years ago when they were still in college without even knowing why-why you stood against this war. Try telling that to my other neighbor, who convinced his brother, who left the military during Iran war, to go back to his unite taking advantage of the presidential pardon that was announced on the TV and formal newspaper, and when he finally convinced him and took him by himself to the military police to take him to his unite, he woke up the next morning to find a car carrying the coffin that had his brother's body inside it, with the word TRAITOR written in large letters on its top, and with a strict order that no funeral should be held, otherwise they would join their brother. And yes, he received a note 2 weeks later telling him that there was a mistake that led to the execution of his brother along with other few hundreds and that they were sorry and that he can have his funeral!!

I could talk for years, and there are MUCH more painful stories but my heart cannot take it to remember all this pain. I hope you have a stronger heart as you explain to those people that you stood against their salvation and allowed their misery to continue because you think your politicians lied to you about the reasons for this war. Try to tell them that this was the doing of America not Saddam and that’s why you stood against her when she tried to remove him and give them freedom AND peace, the peace of mind and heart!!

Again my stupid question: where do you live? As we, who support this war against dictatorship and terrorism, live in this world, this ugly world we are trying to change as persistently as you try to keep it as it is with the same strength and persistence. So… where do you live?

-By Ali.

Days I do not want to forget.

-Day 2 "Shock and awe"
21st of March 2004.

I woke up early this morning after a good sleep without any interruption. I was so tired and now I feel fully active and have this feeling that usually gets to the one when something huge happens, that the 1st thing that comes to his mind the next morning as he awakes: did that really happen or was I dreaming?
Ok, it was more than real for me. The 1st news that surprised me in the morning was the occupation of Om Qasir…(just a moment!) why did I write (occupation)!? Why am I still affected by the media, parroting what they say!? All right, I’ll re-write this line and delete what I 1st wrote.
The liberation of Om Qasir and raising the American flag on one of the buildings there. An unbelievable feeling came when I saw some of my fellow citizens there celebrating their salvation. They were destroying a picture of the tyrant and singing a phrase that still rings in my ears: “Saddam your days are counted”

Truly they are counted. Congratulations my brothers you are the 1st Iraqis to taste freedom. The day we’ll celibate seems to be sooner than I expected. The troops are now marching fast, the British army fighting in Faw too and Safwan has been liberated also. Hundreds of soldiers and officers surrender. Did this mad man expect they were going to fight!!?
I didn’t take a walk in Baghdad today and just met my friends. One of them said” did you see the Iraqi leaders' announcements on TV?” I said, “Not yet, I like to forget their ugly faces and their outrageous lies”

Today was encouraging, as from the beginning there was news about the fast advance of the coalition troops inside Iraq. Ok, it’s the 1st Friday in the battle but we kept an old tradition that was not affected by the events, to gather all around dinner table that is usually special on Fridays.

The noon was perfectly quite with exception of the alarm serine that usually goes on when airplanes cross Baghdad air defense sector and it seems that the mosques insist to go along with these serine to pray for Iraq and her leader. I think the leader is more important than Iraq to them.
We heard that the B-52 bombers had left their bases in London heading towards their targets in Iraq. It seems that the air campaign will start, seriously, soon. We’ve learned through our experience during “Desert Fox” that it usually takes 6 hours until the missiles and bombs start falling on their targets. Ok, then I’ll have to fix my watch accurately.

It was 8.20 p.m. and a friend, Omar and I were expecting the explosions any minute, when we heard the sound of the 1st one, which was huge. We sat around the TV watching with wide-open eyes when Abu-Dhabi satellite channel managed to show where most of the bombing was. It was very clear and close. Now I watch the missile land with the huge fire and after few seconds the sound and the shock wave would reach us. We had the scene on TV and the (sound effects) where we were sitting.

“Let’s go up stairs “I said. My father objected saying “it is too dangerous and you are hearing the sounds of anti-aircraft guns and their shells when they fall on the ground, you may get hurt as these shells can be lethal” however I didn’t listen and went to my friend's home and went upstairs to have a better look. I think I felt safer in open air seeing the missiles as they hit their targets instead of being shocked by the huge sounds of explosions when inside the house.

We were watching a scene I don’t think it was real. We were stunned, not able to utter a word. What we saw was something like “star wars” or “independence day”.
We couldn’t turn our heads to all the directions the missile were landing. They were everywhere and coming one after the other with an unbelievable speed. We didn’t believe what was happening, what seemed like endless huge explosions that shook the ground beneath us, they came from every direction; a striking light followed by a terrible sound and a wave of air that was strongly felt. The smell of gun powder filled our noses and the anti-aircraft were firing, sometimes, even loudly above our heads and I saw SAM missiles fired in all directions and in huge numbers.

The sky was crazy and the land went mad as well. I was panicked to see those SAM missiles falling!! They were not guided, they are like ballistic missiles and that what really scared me. One of those went from the ground high in the sky only to take a sudden turn and head towards, what seemed to us, directly to the place were we were standing before landing somewhere else. Omar shouted” LOOK!” there was a cruise missile exploding in the sky after being hit by one of those anti-air craft cannons.

The red light was overwhelming and covering most of the sky and earth, smoke went from everywhere. We couldn’t stand this and my friend shouted as loud as he can “DOWN WITH SADDAM” I looked at him in shock, he made me more scared. It seemed that he got rid of all his fears and that the falling missiles inspired and encouraged my friend, as he must’ve felt that it’s all over and that the war would be settled tomorrow.

Here one of the air defense battalions which was so close to us, started to fire and there sounds were TERRIBLE. It seems that there’s a target over our heads, but we didn’t wait to tell each other this. We ran like h*** downstairs lowering our heads and I put my jacket over my head, and here my friend looked at me and burst out laughing and said” what!? Do you think it’ll protect you” I said as I was still shaking “no, but I don’t know why I did it”. We were talking as we were jumping on the staircases on our way down. I went home to see that everyone was taking a corner in the shelter, and my mother screamed” WHERE WERE YOU? CAN’T YOU SEE THIS H***? GET INSIDE NOW” Omar and I didn’t like the idea, but a huge explosion at that moment was more than convincing!

I couldn’t know how long it took; seconds, minutes or hours, I couldn’t tell. I looked at my watch to see it was 10.30 p.m. then it went quite and we all calmed down.
We were screaming with each explosion and with all the fear we were living “MORE” in the hope that this time it will be right on their heads. Let them feel terror and fear like they made us live with them all these years.

It was a very hard night and as I tried every time to have some sleep, I woke up with another sound that rocks my house and shakes the windows and doors.
This will never be easy, we’ll face so many dangers and what’s coming is still unknown but I just pray to see the end.

-By Mohammed.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

It was not a war.

Yes, it was not a war. Let everyone and especially the pacifists and all who opposed the coalition that what happened was an operation to free the Iraqi people and eliminate a criminal gang that does not represent any body but itself and its narrow interests and that pauses a serious danger on our country and the others.

That was not a confrontation between two nations nor it was a conflict between different convictions, it was an operation to excise a malignant tumor that was about to destroy everything.

Yes, that was not a war, otherwise we (Iraqis) wouldn’t have waited it impatiently or at least the vast majority of our people who were the victims of a horrible injustice in front of the eyes of all who claim to love humanity and peace. Let me remind you ladies and gentlemen that Saddam ordered his army to take precautions to face the people not the United States and the coalition. The arms of his loyal Dobermans pointed to our chests. His utmost fear was an uprising similar to that happened in 1991. He was getting prepared for another massacre, the stupid dictator believed that America was not able to get to him fast which in his mind would turn the American and public opinion against the coalition and that in his dreams meant that he could survive the American strike and the he would be able to destroy us once we get encouraged by the beginning of the war and the probable softening in his grip over power.

Many parts were outraged and did their best to prevent the downfall of the tyrant. They gave us this horrible scene of hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees and a total destruction that would involve the entire region but none of that happened because, this was not a war.

What happened was the opposite, millions of Iraqis went down to the streets to through flowers to their saviors and slap the face of the tyrant with their shoes and make from destroying Saddam’s pictures and bringing down his statues a clear painting that shows everybody without the slightest doubt that we were all waiting this moment to come.

That was not a war simply because we (the Iraqi people) have no hatred for the others and vice versa. Only Saddam and his gang had the hatred and the lust for destruction. We never shared them that feeling, we were only his hostages. He was threatening frankly to exterminate us once he would be in danger. He showed his determination to do everything and Iraqis will never forget his barbarism and brutality in 1991.

That was not a war because we were not afraid of the missiles falling around us because we knew well that those missiles knew very well their way to the shelters of the tyrant and his allies. But we feared his missiles, tanks and cannons that were situated around us and near our houses. We were afraid that he might gas us once he felt his hour was coming.

That was not a war for sure because now I see clearly the others around us looking forward for similar change demanding strongly what we had. They’re getting murdered by their governments while they scream to get their freedom and this is only one of the results of this operation. Now they see the difference.
It hurts my ears to hear the stupid statements about the “death of innocents” and the “tragedies” that are happening now because everybody knows that these are nothing comparable to the tragedies and losses we suffered in the past and those were for nothing.
And let them know that we’re ready to sacrifice more if that is the price needed to secure and maintain our freedom. Where were those paid off voices when we were murdered in thousands? Where were their ugly voices when Saddam used poisons on innocents?
That was not a war but a hope we were all dreaming of and we will never forget the sacrifices of the others and what they offered in the sake of our freedom.

A heart felt greetings to the heroes of this brave and just operation who never spare an effort to help us and listen to us.
God bless the souls of those heroes who died during this operation.
That was not a war but a salvation and a wonderful dream and unbelievable dream coming true.

-By Mohammed.

Days I do not want to forget.

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!!

-By Mohammed.

Friday, March 19, 2004

:: Hey, it seems that we're getting famous. The US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz quoted from one of Ali's posts.

The final count down.

-The day, Wednesday the 18th. of March 2003.
-The dollar exchange price is 3000.
-It’s really a very long day to me. I’m not waiting for something ordinary to happen, a huge event is a head of us in the coming hours and no one can tell in which direction things will go; who’s going to stay alive and who’s going to leave us for ever. Today I fare welled the last one of my friends who decided to leave Baghdad to another governorate, which is supposed to be a safer place for him and his family than Baghdad. I’ve been through this scene many times in the last few days but this time it gave me a different feeling; for the first time I realized how dangerous the situation is. This power-maniac tyrant may use chemical weapons or maybe he’ll poison the water supplies or blow up the dams as revenge upon everyone if he felt he’s in danger. This is the first time I feel afraid, my friend noticed that and he tried to calm me down with the tears in his eyes “don’t worry my friend, I’m sure we’ll meet again” I hugged him and I was crying too.
-Omar and I toady started to reinforce the glass windows with adhesive tape; a procedure we got used to during the previous wars. I was injured once with glass fragments as the entire house windows broke when our street got struck with an Iranian earth-to-earth missile in 1987. So we decided to do the job in a perfect way this time.
-Today, many of my friends (who decided to remain in Baghdad) came to visit me. We were convinced that we should stay and we should never miss such a historical event but we were anxious at the same time “was it the right decision to make?” it’s too late to retreat now and we have to get prepared.
-I don’t think that the operations will start immediately after the 48 hours are over. I expected the operations to start 2 days later but anyway the hours succeeding the 48 hours will be something different.
-Our operations room and our analysis went to a peak activity; reports are endless and we don’t want to miss anything.
-The Iraqi national council refuses forcefully the given 48 hours limit and Udday asks GWB to leave the white house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When shall God rid us from those crazy, brain-lacking freaks? Why is the world standing against the war? Don’t they know what’s happening here? I wish I’d survive to see an end to this tyranny.
-President Bush meets the senior American officials (Tommy Franks attends the meeting and I guess he received the war decision with the zero-hour) and communicates through the phone with the big leaders of the world.
-The security council holds an emergency meeting called for by Russia at the level of ministers of foreign affairs and Colin Powel sees no necessity for holding it and refuses to attend the meeting (well done Colin, those pigs should feel ashamed for standing by Saddam. I’d love to see a greater insult to this council and the UN).
-Hans Blix feels sorry for not giving the UNMOVIC enough time.(I feel really sorry for you Hans, you’re pathetic, you want to remain wise while Iraqis are playing games with you until you became a joke).
-I had my usual tour today and I felt very excited (how many times can someone see such events in his life time, events that history will always remember). Most of the shops are closed and the Ba’ath patrols are wandering in the nearly empty streets of Baghdad. Schools have become head quarters for the Ba’athists and the emergency brigades.
-I went to my barber and I told him to give me a war hair cut. He asked “and how do you want this?” I replied “the shortest cut you can do, I don’t know when I can come to you again” he laughed and started to work hard on my hair, the guy too wasn’t sure if he would be able to go out to work in the coming days. After that I went with my friend, who asked me to accompany him, he wanted to settle a debt to a shopkeeper from whom he took a loan. He said I’d better pay back my debts rather than dying and taking the money with me.
-I returned home late to find intensive guarding in our street; unfamiliar forces, well equipped with special uniforms. They stopped us “where are you heading?” I answered “to my house” and I pointed to my house which is 30 meters from their checkpoint they said “OK, put don’t go out again tonight” there was a large number of those guards, some of them taking positions near the fences of the houses. There was a military facility in our street which turned to a headquarters for the operations of the republican guards two days ago. It seems that there is a VIP guest tonight. I stood in the garden watching and very worried “that’s just what we needed tonight. A vital possible target near our house” after few moments I saw a number of fancy cars with no registration plates and the drivers wearing (yeshmagh) on their heads. Those are the special guards of Qussay. It seems that Qussay will spend the night here or at least he’ll hold a meeting here.
-OK, I won’t sleep tonight with such danger so close to me.
-We gathered in front of the TV to see that most of the news channels are displaying a count down clock as if we were waiting for the New Year.
Well, it’s 4:00 am exactly, time is over, now we’re expecting missiles to start falling on Baghdad at any second.
-My life will no longer be the same as it used to be. I asked my father “should something happen now?” he said, “I don’t think so, the white house told the press to go home”. Omar had a different opinion, he said “I think that the missiles or the aircrafts are on their way now but they’ll need an hour or so to reach Baghdad”.
-Well, what shall I do now? I can’t sleep I’m sure of that but I’m so tired so I’ll try to sleep. I left Ali awake; Omar and my father decide to take a nap near the TV. It seems that we’ll have to wait for another day.

-By Mohammed.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

:: An interesting and encouraging report about the economy in Iraq was sent to me by a friend:
"Though still very low, Iraqi living standards are higher than at any time since the 1990 Gulf War, economists say, despite the ongoing bombings and killings. Oil revenues, which fund the government and its social safety net, are near prewar levels. The World Bank estimates that the economy will grow by 30 percent this year, after shrinking last year."
See full post.

:: To continue with Mohammed's diaries.

-The day, March the 18th. 2003.
-The dollar exchange price is 3200.
-I woke up in the morning after an restless sleep to find that everyone is awake. They couldn’t sleep last night, as they were eager to listen to the speech of GWB. Before I started to ask anything Ali faced me with a smile saying that “Saddam has only 48 hours left or probably less right now!”
I laughed, and then looked for a confirmation “are you sure? 48 hours only! Usually bank robbers or hostage kidnappers are given more than just 48 hours”.
-Well, well, Saddam and his sons are treated like little thieves, the humiliation is very clear here. It seems that we’re going to have 2 days full of events. The Iraqi street is becoming more nervous. The debate is over for those who had doubts about the seriousness of the war. The war is coming and even faster than what we thought.
-Few years ago I used to find myself optimistic when I see Iraq taking the head of the news hour and I say “yes, the tragedy is coming to an end” and then I come in the next day to find that the world took a step backwards.
Today Iraq is the only news, that it became difficult for us to watch all the news about the country.
-The weapons’ inspectors are leaving Iraq today and Tony Blair wins the vast majority of votes for Britain’s participation in the operations.
-The Iraqi regime condemns the warning and Saddam is on TV wearing his military uniform for the first time since more than a year.
-The street is certain that Saddam will not take use the chance and leave but people wonder, “will a miracle happen?” despite the fact that many Iraqis believed that the coming operation is just like the ones before; “limited strikes and Saddam remains in power” but no, not this time. This will be his end for sure; however the previous experiences made Iraqis doubt the credibility of the world intentions to topple Saddam.
-My ride in the streets is very interesting; people are buying everything and anything. I was surprised to see some stores totally empty; people are buying things in dozens or crates and there’s significant crowding near the gas stations.
-The special guards and the Ba’ath and emergency troops and militias are taking their positions in Baghdad.
-Some of the big stores are having walls of bricks to block the entrance as a safety precaution for what might happen. They’re completely sealing the doors of the shops, we don’t know how much time it will take for these walls to be removed and for life to return normal.
We’re facing a mysterious future but everyone despite the great worries is repeating one phrase “either death or a better life” we’ll no more tolerate this situation.
Only time carries the answer.

We have to decide right now.

Some might think while reading the following lines that pain and anger are talking on my behalf but I wouldn’t feel such internal peace like this moment. Last night I sat for a long time looking for a solution to this crisis.
How can we face these bloody brutal crimes? It’s so clear; the enemies of humanity have the determination and made up their mind to the extent that they’re ready to kill themselves together with the others.
They’re testing the patience of the freedom lovers on earth and they’re ready to do anything. That’s why we should also put our minds together and there’s no room here in this war for the hesitant. Every one has to define his position and no one can be neutral about this war.
Yes, the hesitant and the neutral will gain some temporary peace but I’m sure that the war will not take a long time to knock on their doors. It’s just a matter of time.
It’s become clear that everyone except the coalition and Iraqis want Iraq to be the only battlefield and that war doesn’t spread to other regions. And I’m sure and you’re sure -even if we lack the evidence- that we know who’s behind this and who will benefit from failing this leading experience in Iraq.
Logic says so.
Ok, we in Iraq have made up our minds and we’ll never miss the “good old days” and so do the people and troops of the coalition but in my opinion this should not go on this way; we have to move the war again to enemy’s land who found other shelters to hide in and attack from.
Well, this idea may seem horrifying to many people but this is the best way we can handle those criminals. The battle in Iraq will not reach an end until other files are started to be dealt with.
Rushing to open the next file is the only way to face the situation. I know that the American administration knows this and they said that clearly “the war will last for a long time on many fronts and we have to be always one step ahead of terrorism until we destroy it in its last shelter”
We know who are feeding the instability and now they’re frightened after their people started to move directly towards demanding their rights.
To be frank, I’m talking about Syria here. The Ba’ath dictatorship regime there is dying every day from panic about the great democratic evolution in Iraq. And this evolution is having its influence on the Syrians, that’s why the dictator decided to kill the dream in Iraq and will keep working to fail it or at least delay it.
Yesterday we lost tens and the media keep hatefully repeating that the IP, Americans and their allies are failing to provide security to the Iraqis. While the day before when the dictator in Syria murdered tens of his own people who are looking forward to freedom (by the hands of the Syrian security men) we never heard anyone saying that the dictator failed to provide security for his own people.
Strict dealing with the Syrian file and tightening the circle around the Ba’ath regime there will fade their plans and evil visions about Iraq.
Some might say that this war will never end and we’ll be obliged to fight more, lose more blood and spend more money. And I’m with you on this but the question here is who started the war in the first place? Remember this. They declared the war and they attacked New York and they will attack again if they were left free. They’re betting on the reluctance and fear of some nations and they were further encouraged by the decisions of some shortsighted European countries.
The more we kneel to them the more intensely they attack. Offering tributes will only strengthen the terrorists’ insistence on their war. As for those reluctant who put the task on the shoulders of the UN, those want nothing but hiding their fear from the challenge. When could the UN solve a crisis?
The UN is a total failure and handing responsibilities to her is fleeing from these responsibilities.
At least we (the directly concerned parts) should think and decide to eliminate any hesitant attitude from our minds. We started this war and we know it will bring so many hardships but we have to face these. Stopping in the middle of the road is a disaster to the whole world.
The terrorists want us to live for the moment without looking up to the future and now we should show everyone our seriousness and determination.

- By Mohammed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

:: The (free prisoners' rights defending association) is planning to open a fair in Sulaymaniah on the memorial of the victims of Halabja's massacre. The association will show thousands of documents that belong to the dictator's regime, among which are 18,000 execution orders signed by Saddam himself during the reign of his brutal regime.
Those documents will uncover the names of many of the criminals who served for the tyrant's security systems. One should keep in mind that those 18,000 documents represent what one association could find after most of the security agencies buildings were burnt or destroyed after the 9th. of April 2003 mainly by the Ba'athists and those agencies employees to hide the evidences of the crimes they committed.
:: We tragically lost a fellow blogger about a week ago in an ambush by some criminals in middle Iraq. Robert Zangas courageously served in the US marines last year and after that as a volunteer civilian. Our condolences to his family and friends.

“Long live the King”

Your majesty, the King of Spain:

I would like to send my congratulations and sincere wishes of peace and prosperity for you and your country on the occasion of ‘electing’ the new government that would sure lead your people to the shores of peace and prosperity again.

I’d like to add that I find it strange from many people allover the world to stick their noses in a strictly internal affair that concerns the people of Spain and no one else. What did those people expect and what business do they have in this issue?

I want to send my high regards to your royal person for your strong and loud voice and the usual courage of yours that you clearly showed in 3/11.
As expected from someone with your firm and persuasive character, you showed the people of Spain and the rest of the world that you could again, turn the tables and make the blind see and the deaf hear. How can one expect no response to your clear and loud message you sent to your royal subjects and to the rest of the world on that glorious day through that train?

Some irritating people may stick their nose again and say” but what about those who died in the train? How can you honor them with such action?” these ignorant should understand what needed no explanation to the Spanish voters who turned the table; they are honoring them by avoiding more death, so they served their role as sacrificial lambs to show the road. They mourn them and they feel sorry for their families, but they see no reason for more foolishness. They have decided to make peace with those who they led an unjustifiable aggression against, and they are ready to apologize and correct this tragic mistake.

Other more stupid will say, “This will not calm the terrorists”, but how can they see the future? Why don’t other nations join Spain in her courageous move? Surly this should end this madness, as these people are not exactly mad, they are victims for the west’s greed and an obvious American attempt to occupy the whole world, and once they left alone, they might even turn to be our friends.

Surly there will be exceptions such as the 3rd. world, Israel and America, but America brought this on herself and she should deal with it alone, and Israel, well Israel have obviously no choice, so there’s nothing we can offer her other than our advice to do the same and open their eyes and ears and listen to the words of Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Jihad. I wouldn't see an obstacle to peace then! The 3rd. world? The term alone should answer the question, they are the 3d world, and don’t get this wrong as those Spanish voters do sympathize with them, as they do with the Israeli, but still everyone should excuse them when they believe that their blood is more precious than that of the rest.

I’m sure that if the rest of the coalition countries follow the wise step of Spain, they’ll be safe and there’s absolutely no reason to make us believe that those ‘fighters’ will bother them again. These are sovereign nations with well demarcated and strongly protected borders, and all is needed, is to be nice to those fighters and further strengthen the borders to prevent illegal immigration and sneaking terrorists who might still doubt the honesty of Spain and other European countries.

And for the propaganda machines that give us a continuous headache about the possibility of some dictators getting WMDs and using or handing them to terrorist groups; it’s enough to say that this is not even possible within many years and when it happens, it wouldn’t amount to more than one or two nuclear bombs dropped over America or Israel most probably, and then the whole Islamic world would be wiped out of the map! So, "stop this nonsense let us live our lives and you deal with it". Some may add that there maybe many bombs and that there’s no guarantee that Europe will be safe, but that should be left for the next generations to deal with if it appears to be a real threat as Europe will be in peace with those people and there seems no logical reason for them to attack Europe as they seem to be people who think logically.

Congratulation again to the newly elected sensible government, to the newly crowned (and real) king of Spain; his royal majesty Osama Bin Laden and to the Spanish people for proving that they are a 'sovereign nation' and that they don’t submit to any outside pressure, not from the USA nor from any other…government.
Long live the King.

-By Ali.

The day of truth.

-The day, Monday the 17th. Of March 2003.
-The dollar exchange price is 2830.
-As I expected, the Security Council failed to make a decision about Iraq’s violations. Britain, Spain and the USA pull out their new announcement project and Colin Powel says that president Bush will give Saddam Hussein a last chance to leave Iraq.
-All the inspectors now leaved the no arms zone between Iraq and Kuwait.
-Israel declares extreme alert situation.
-Kofi Annan orders the weapons inspectors to leave Iraq.
-Stopping the work with the MOU and stopping the oil export.
-The world is waiting for GWB’s speech at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow Baghdad time.
-A British minister (Robin Cook) resigns and the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs refuses the idea about Saddam leaving Iraq.
-It seems that it’s a matter of few hours only. My friend and I took a ride in Baghdad. We’re from those who can’t wait to see the operations start and we are optimistic this time that Saddam will not remain this time. We’ve waited so long and now only hours separate us from the beginning of the end of the tyrant. Baghdad looks like a ghosts' city, cars are passing by so fast and the troops and militias are abundant in the streets.

-The preparations for war in our house are now completed.
-Today, Ali arrived from Basra and I asked him (just for kidding) “it seems that GWB gave the chance to you not to Saddam that you came in such a hurry!”
-Today many friends came to visit me, all carrying another question (the old one of “will there be a war?” has disappeared and the question now is “WHEN?”.
-I’ll go to sleep early tonight and this is better solution than waiting for the speech, I want to wake up in the morning to see someone who tells me “it’s over; we just have to count hours”.
I went to bed and left Ali and Omar watching the TV as they refused to sleep and decided to keep waiting.

-By Mohammed.