We woke up this morning to the sounds of many explosions in Baghdad and since we are familiar with those sounds we recognized that these were no doubt mortar shelling but not like the usual which is one or two rounds fired by some terrorists in a hit and run manner; this time fire was exchanged between two or more groups and lasted for more than an hour.
Mortars are blind and whoever uses this kind of dumb weapon that belongs to WWI is blind too. Maybe they make good weapons in open battlefields but using mortars inside crowded cities reflects savage insanity that forces you to pick a mortar-lottery ticket and hope not to be the unfortunate winner.
When you count the homes in Baghdad and the number of daily mortars and using some logarithmic equations of probabilities you feel somewhat relieved by knowing that you're unlikely watch a mortar round fall on your head and after each time you hear the bang of one of those dumb things you realize that it fell sufficiently away from you and you hope that it didn't hurt someone.
I wasn't home this morning but I was close enough to home to know that the relatively unusual intense bombardment was close to my neighborhood.
It still felt 'normal' until my cell phone rang, I picked up and it was my father.
Are you coming home soon Mohammed?
I just want to tell you not to panic when you see the crowd and police vehicles in our alley…
What's wrong? What happened?
Don't worry (said the old seasoned former soldier) it's just a mortar round; it hit the home of one of our neighbors, some 60 meters from ours.
No, no one was hurt….
I rushed home as fast as I could and when I arrived I learned that my father instructed the family to remain in the small bomb-shelter we have in the back yard. "They come in threes and fours, so I thought it was safer to keep them there for a while, until we're sure the attack is over" my dad explained.
Those were moments that brought a strong flashback from the days of previous wars especially with a strong smell of gunpowder in the air.
What is happening to us? Many questions rang in my head at that moment that were nagging for answers. I looked at my father and I prayed he could help me put things into perspective.
I always talk to my father when things get complicated; this man lived through the times of the monarchy, the first republic, the pan-Arab nationalists and the Ba'ath and he's from the generation that ruled Iraq for decades and many of our current politicians belong to this generation. This makes men like my father closer to understanding the way his generation thinks as well as its internal conflicts, so I threw at him the urging questions and confused thoughts I had in my head:
Me: How is this mess going to resolve dad?
Dad: it is not.
Me: Are you positive? Why?
Dad: People find solutions only if they wanted to and I think many of the political players do not want a solution.
Me: Is there a chance the situation will further escalate?
Dad: Most likely yes, we are a state still run by sentiments rather than reason which means it's a brittle state and any sentimental overreaction can turn the tide it in either direction.
Me: what kinds of challenges can make things worse?
Dad: Virtually anything…assassinating a leader, a fatwa, attack on a shrine like last time; we do not possess the institutions that can abolish the effects of severe sentimental reactions.
Me: Is there going to be no role for politics?
Dad: What politics are you talking about?! We are dealing with deeply-rooted beliefs…Yes, in politics everything is possible but with religion you find yourself before very few options to choose from and our people have mostly voted for the religious.
Me: And what's America's role here? Will they stand by and watch while things go against what the way they desire?
Dad: Why do you always put America in the face of the canon? America is a super power but it's not superman. These are our problems now and America has nothing to do with it. We have to fix our mess or no one will.
Me: But their interests and presence here makes Iraq's stability a top priority for them, right?
Dad: And this stability is not going to happen soon…Why do you always want things to be the way you like them? Failure exists just like success does.
Me: Will America leave Iraq?
Dad: Not now of course but they will at the nearest possible chance. Don't forget that America had been in the region long before 2003 and Iraq is not an irreplaceable base. Syria and Iran can be dealt with from Turkey of the gulf countries.
Me: We need another 9th of April.
Dad: There will be no new 9th of April.
Me: Why do our politicians seek confrontation?
Dad: The religious seek death because after death comes heaven they believe…Do you want to deny them this dream?
Me: No but …will they really go to heaven?
Dad: hell, no!
As a people we have believed in democracy and elections as the best means to decide the future our new country. We do have different visions for democracy but the massive turnout in the last elections show that the majority of people are looking up to voting as a means to choose leaderships and get representation…
We chose our representatives and we know they have a variety of programs and visions for the country and we hoped that the difference in opinions and exchange of thoughts would initiate constructive debase and bring up better decisions.
We the voters expressed our differences through the box and the paper and every one of us voted for the person or party he or she deemed the best.
And in the same manner our representatives should restrict expressing their differences to the halls of the parliament because that's what we chose them to do in the first place and violating this by turning their differences into a violent conflict in the streets is a outrageous betrayal to the people and it's so far away from the way we chose for ourselves to work out our differences.