Sunday, February 08, 2004
Finally I finished posting all my previous emails. Now the blog is ready for new material.......
Keeping you updated, 26 Jan04

Dear friends,

I've been writing this message for about two weeks. I am too lazy to finish it, and each time I leave the message for few days, some of its news become obsolete, I delete them and the message shrinks in size, so I wait few more days to add more news and so on. Another reason for not writing is thinking to myself: Ok I'll write, then what? People will read this, feel sorry about us, then continue with their lives. If it has not been for some certain people who are insisting that I write something every once and a while, I will surely have stopped. At the beginning I used to write such messages because I felt a need to do so, now I write them only because I am asked to do so. I guess this greatly affected the style, and the type of news included. This one, will very likely be the last.

About 2 weeks ago, I decided to start my own blog. I thought that in the blog I can add short comments whenever appropriate before the subjects involved get obsolete. My first problem was with choosing the name. I thought that it was very impolite of the site to ask me to choose a name at about 3:30AM. How was I supposed to choose a good name that late. The site should have at least given me a chance till the morning to choose the name. I was barely awake and the best I could think of was "thougths04". You can visit it if you want at if you visit it now, you'll find one great line there, and that is:


Since then, I haven't put anything yet. But I'll keep wishing that I will add some stuff later.

The situation now is as follows:

- Electricity wise, same same. We get electricity from 8 (the general average) to 12 (The very best) hours a day at best. Though few days ago, we experienced something we've forgotten long long ago. Guess what? It was 7 consecutive hours of electricity, but unfortunately it was from 2Am till 9AM - The least useful time in the day. In return, for the last two days, the average hours of electricity a day became 6 :( As I said before, I've written this paragraph long time ago, now we are having about 12 hours a day :)

Let me give you some facts about fuel:

- Since in our country we moved from one party, one leader, one everything to many parties, many leaders, many everything, I don't see why the case with gasoline should be any different. Now we have the following types of gasoline:

* Reddish, which is considered as the best type.

* Yellow, A moderate poor quality.

* White, Very bad fuel. Barely keeps the engine running, but this is the most available type in gas stations.

* Some times we see greenish fuel. (not categorized yet!)

- Those who sell fuel, stand in the streets with almost transparent containers in front of them so you can see the color of the fuel, and decide. If the container is not transparent, I will not advice buying from that person.

* I used to use the reddish type, but it started to disappear gradually. And now unfortunately, I cannot find any. The interesting thing, is that if you take 20 Liter of the white type (the worst), and add just one drop of red hydraulic to it, the fuel will have exactly the same reddish color for the good quality fuel. This raised another problem. If I do find some reddish fuel on the street, will I buy it, or not? Risky business.

* Fuel sellers also used to mix gasoline with kerosene to increase the quantity, but luckily (regarding this specific problem only) the kerosene prices got as high as the gasoline, so it became impractical to use it as a mix. I hope they will not use water instead!

* The authorities (I don't know which, the CPA or the GC) forbade selling fuel in the black market on the streets, and forbade the gas stations to give fuel in containers. That was about two weeks ago, It was even said that those who do that, will face a maximum of three years in prison!. So if you wanted to buy fuel for your power generator, or if you are unwilling to stand up in long lines (like me), then this caused a real problem. Haven't they thought about that: if someone has a power generator and no car (as is the case with thousands of people), how will he get the fuel? We were forced to buy the fuel in secrete from homes, or from the dark streets at night (We were forced to make such a crime). Luckily, like every other law stated in Iraq, laws only hold for about a week or so, then they don't apply anymore!!! This has always been the case with law in Iraq.

We used to have things like the "Obey the traffic signs" week. The police would make sure that no one breaks the traffic lights during that week, and when the week ends, they will stop caring. The same for many other things, make a low, apply it for few days or weeks, make a fuss about it, then forget it. And that’s exactly what happened here (Thank God).

* Anyway, the fuel problem (quantity wise) is almost solved, but quality wise, I still deeply miss the reddish fuel :(

- Security. Unfortunately, I've heard a lot of kidnapping events lately, but in almost all cases, there is always a catch. Either the father had some political problems, a long forgotten revenge case, or the family is extremely wealthy. Being very rich is a curse now. Many wealthy families left Iraq fearing from such events.

- I've heard of few cases where doctors were threatened to be killed or have one of their family get killed if they don't pay large amounts of money as a compensation for an old incidences where the patient had died or had his leg cut for example. Such a thing happened with a relative of mine who is a doctor and (only attended) an operation for cutting a patient's leg which was necessary to save his life. That was about ten years ago. Now his family came to him asking for 2,500,000ID (about $2000) or they will kill him or one of his family. Such things are more organized than you think, after paying the money, both parties sign papers to document the case. The police does not involve itself in such cases. Yes, unfortunately we are back to the dark ages.

- As for expositions. Well, we hear the sounds everyday. Some are louder than others, some are bigger than others, but we've learned to simply ignore them and go on with our lives. Otherwise, we'll end up locking ourselves in our homes. When we hear about an explosion in the news, hear about the number of casualties, we get a mixed emotion of sadness, anger, and helplessness. We curse those who do such crazy acts, but again we go on with our lives. We always had the feeling that this will always happen to someone else, someone we don't know, someone we don't relate to. We are untouchables. Well, It doesn't need a smart one to know that I am wrong, and I am just fooling myself. The last big explosion that happened near the "Jamhuriah bridge" (at about 8:00AM Sunday 11 January), killed the brother of a friend of mine. He, like many others was going to his work, but was unfortunate enough to be in the car next to the one that exploded. He is married with three children, the youngest being few months old. They spent two days without knowing anything about him, no one to ask, no one to turn to. I wonder, if they wanted to blame someone, who will that be: The man who did this, the people who tricked him in doing this, the Coalition for invading the country, or Saddam for giving the Coalition the excuse to invade our country? Good question, isn't it?

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is brought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?" - Gandhi -

- Another subject that worth mentioning, is the way the Americans (referring to the armed forces) drive in our streets. It is very common for them to drive on the wrong side and at high speeds. So at any moment, one might find himself facing a humvee or a tank, and if he is lucky enough, he'll be able to escape them. When one drives very carelessly in a street in Iraq, we say he is driving as if the street belongs to his father (il shari3 mal beet il khallifoo) Is that the case with the Americans? Do our streets belong to their ancestors? Only in the past two weeks, I've heard about three people whom I know who had car incidences with the US army's Vehicles. In one case, they stopped, gave the man a number to call, and in the other cases, they simply continued going in their (wrong) way. Three incidences with people that I KNOW, should give you an idea of how much this is happening in general. Drivers are doing their best now to avoid being anywhere near an army troop. No one knows what might happen at any moment. (There is an Arabic essay which says: Go far from danger, and sing for it - Ib3id 3an al shar wa ghanillu)

Our currency:

In the past month, the value of the Iraqi dinar varied from 2000ID for 1$ to 1000ID. This was caused partly because of the deadline for replacing the old currency which was 15 January 04. Now it is varying in the range of 1300 to 1500. Having such large changes in such a short period, caused a lot of problems and confusion to everyone. People either get paid in US dollars or in Iraqi dinar. So some had the value of their payments dropped to almost half while its doubled for others!! now it is almost settled in between.

There is one subject that I haven't talked about in this message and that's whether to have "elections or selections" as was expressed by one of the station. Well, this is a rather complicated subject and deserves an email of its own. I wonder if I will right that email?

PS: You know..After reading my message, and for a certain paragraph that was in it, I decided that I should either remove my name from the letter, or that I should delete the paragraph. Just having such thoughts got me scared, I thought to myself "Oh my God", this was the case in Saddam's days, we should be able to write freely now without being scared, Unfortunately this feeling started creeping back to us because of many different reasons.


Back to where we started, 23 Nov 03

Dear friends,

The last message I wrote was before the beginning of Ramadan, and I was worried that Ramadan will not be as it used to. Today I write this message with only a day or two left of Ramadan. Things were a little bit better than what I expected. Many shops remained open till about 10pm and streets remained busy till about the same time. Though the day ended much earlier than before, but still better than what I personally expected.

Evaluating the general situation here, it looks like we’ve gone back to were we used to be about four months ago. And here is why: 1. Electricity got bad again and the power cuts now range from 12-16 hours a day after it reached to about 6-8 a day. 2. Queues for fuel returned to be very very long and prices of fuel in the black market are higher than ever. I used to bye the liter for 125ID, now it reached 400ID (black market prices), while the official price is 50ID for liter. 3. After opening the “hanging bridge” at the beginning of Ramadan. The CPA closed it again few days ago. Opening that bridge was very important because it is a vital bridge and greatly affects traffic on other bridges. 4. Civilian airplanes are no longer permitted to land or take-off from Baghdad international airport. So if there was a hope that the airport will return to receiving passengers soon, this hope is now vanished. As you note, some of the factors that affects everyday life got worse, after they did get better. Who knows in what direction things will go next.

Let me tell you an ironic story about things here. A month ago there was the problem of deciding the beginning of Ramadan. For those who don’t know, Ramadan starts when the moon is born. So to decide the beginning of Ramadan, people must monitor the sky to see whether they can see the newly born moon or not. Lacking a government that people trust, each group of people relied on a different source to determine the beginning of Ramadan. Some followed the Sunis leaders, some followed the Shia leaders, and others (like me) followed the TV which represents the government. The funny thing is that neither the Sunis, nor the Shias followed the Government. So some started Ramadan on Sunday and others on Monday. Even in my own family, some started on Sunday and others on Monday. Anyway, the beginning is not as much a problem as Eid because Eid is a holiday where people visit each other and having different dates for Eid will create a problem. Unfortnately the problem did occur, some announced tomorrow as the first day of Eid while the others (including me) will have the first day of Eid either tomorrow or the day after!!. This is a very unfortunate thing. It seems Iraq is the only country with two moons. A suni moon and a shia moon!!! How to differentiate between the two is beyond my knowledge.

Another sad thing is what was written in a newspaper few days ago. The ministry of foreign affairs (whose minister is from Kurdistan) announced that it has some job opportunities but those who submit must be graduates of Kurdistan!. I’ve heard that the same thing is happening in other ministries. In the past to submit to any job in the government, one has to be from the Baath Party. Now, since each ministry represents a certain party, then to submit to any ministry, one has to be a member of the party (or religion belief) represented by that ministry!

Another thing that I heard is that in some ministries, men are forbidden to wear a tie and women are forced to wear hijab. This of course happens with ministries belonging to extreme Islamic parties. So much for the promised freedom. Maybe in some other ministries men will be forced to go to work in shorts and women in Bikini. Who knows, everything is possible in my country!

In the old days, it was a crime to be seen taking pictures near governmental and presidential places. But at the beginning of our freedom era I started taking pictures here and there to document things. Unfortunately, we lost this freedom again, and if one is caught taking pictures in public places by the US army, he will be suspected to be preparing for a bombing or any other attack, and will probably be arrested.

Day by day, the CPA is discovering that the best way to force security is Saddam’s way, but they refuse to admit this. In the old days, you can see agents from the intelligence or from special security forces standing in main highways every few hundred meters. Or you might not see them but if your car stops they will come out from everywhere. Now we are in desperate need of such system to stop people from putting mines in the highways or from attaching US troops in the middle of the city. What the US army is doing now is building high fences (about 3m high and 1m wide) along the sides of some main highways and near their high security areas. Those fences are build from concrete blocks basically imported from Turkey (as I heard). I also hear that each of those blocks costs about $2000 (including transfer and setup). The amount of such blocks in Baghdad now are by thousands. I wonder who is paying for this. We or the Americans. Hiring few security people would have been much more practical and cheaper and will at least offer some extra work opportunities.

Let me tell you some good news for a change. The security situation (in term of robberies and such stuff and not bombing) got much better, and now I am using my car normally, though I never go out alone, and never out after 9pm. But some more courageous people do. People are returning to living their normal life more and more despite of everything. We waited for things to get better to return to our normal life. But since it does not seem that a noticeable improvement will happen soon. People stopped waiting and just went on with their lifes. It is said that "Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people." And from what I have seen from Iraqis in the past few months, Iraqis did prove that they are unreasonable people. I don’t know whether now this is considered as a virtue or not.

The process of replacing the old currency with the new one has been going on for about a month now. At last we have a well-printed currency on special currency paper, instead of the old terribly printed currency on normal paper.

That’s it for now because the battery of my computer is running low and as usual we don’t have electricity right now.


A New Hope , October 03

Dear friends

It has been over six weeks since my last letter and much have happened since then. During this period and for a while I decided to write a letter entitled "A NEW HOPE", but before I write this Longley awaited letter, the NEW HOPE title seemed to be a little too early.

But anyway, lets talk about some good stuff first. First there is the new government (well its not that new now, but this is the first letter I write under this government so it can be considered new). Though the new government with its 25 ministers (exactly the same number as the governing council positions) is a mirror of the governing council. Same number of Shias, Sinis, Kurds... and For most persons in the governing council, there is a person carrying the same family name (if not a son - like the oil minister!!!!) in the government; in spite all that, the ministers seems to be highly professional people. I've read their CV's and many of them are Harvard and MIT graduates and some with multiple higher degrees. The qualifications of most of them are really impressive. So although this is the first government in the worlds where the religion or nationality of the minister is determined beforehand, I think that, overall it is a good start.


Well, since at most of the time, there is no electricity, there used to be huge traffic jams and specially at the main intersections, and since the number of policemen is not enough to solve this problem, Iraqis invented something called "Traffic police friends" and these are normal people wearing a special badge and helping in organizing the traffic.

Now one sees a large number of those people at every intersection and they are helping greatly in keeping the traffic flowing smoothly. In many cases you can see the policeman standing in the shade while his so called friend standing under the sun organizing the traffic! One can only admire those persons who are doing a great favor for all of us. We Iraqis like friendship so much. In the past there was something called "A president's friend" and those are people with special privileges. Now, that this title is gone, we invented the "Friend of traffic police" anything just to keep the friendship thing going.

So the above point was one of the factors to build the new hope. Another factor in the same category "traffic, that is" participated in canceling this positive factor. The increased number of roads getting blocked. Now with the increased number of bombing attacks all important buildings, embassies, government buildings, etc.. have blocked the roads leading to them, causing huge traffic jams in alternative roads. The bombing attacks are increasing and the blocking are increasing. Until a new kind of friendship is found, I don't see a quick end to this road blocking and traffic problems.


Now to security, and I mean personal security not National security (i.e., getting robbed, not getting exploded) At last, my car left the garage after about 5 months. The last time I put some fuel into my car, was the day when the Americans bombed the Iraq National Exhibition, during the war. I remember this date because the gas station was near that place and I had great difficulty reaching there wandering what was wrong without knowing that this place was hit before about 2 hours. Anyway, almost two weeks past without hearing of an armed car robbery, so I decided to be brave and start using my car again. I am using it now only for nearby places but have decided to go back to normal use next week.

Now it is more likely that I and the car get exploded by a mine or a missile than having the car get robbed.

This is a fact. Each day we hear the sound of several explosions (the media only shows a small portion of them). So now there is no need to worry about thieves, just bombs!!! Again the bombs factor cancelled the security factor. About 3 weeks ago we heard a very loud bang at about 11:30 pm. It turned out to be a mine put in the way of an American troop about 250m from our house. It gave us quiet a shock. The mine was about 5m from a hospital. What resistance in the world puts a mine near a hospital What makes one mad, is the Arabic satellite channels like "Al Jazeerah, and Al Arabia". They call all these crazy acts "Resistance acts" killing an American soldier and 10 Iraqis is called resistance. The media gets so busy by the one American and forgets about the 10 Iraqis. Its just frustrating. Such acts only delays the settlement of the country. Some people (and the number is increasing) are even saying that the Americans are doing this to keep thing in a mess to justify their presence and their plan to stay more. I, personally, don’t think so.

Police Force

You can see a lot of Iraqi Police now and they are much more respected by people now, they are well paid and decently dressed unlike the old days (In the past one always suspects a policeman for an intelligence agent or something like that). But still we need many more of them to feel more secure, or at least they should make more friends.

Electricity (my favorite)

Two weeks ago, we had about 48 hours of full electricity. Something we have not experienced for 6 months. Imagine that... 48 hours of electricity. What a blessing.

I did my calculations: All of our house consumes about 10 amperes. A single air-conditioning unit consumes about 15 amperes and with an average of 3 air-conditioning units in a house, it will sum up to about 55 amperes. Now that the weather got better and we stopped using air-conditioning, then we are consuming about 1/4 of our consumption in summer. With this I concluded that electricity will continue to be good. Add to that the lie that we've been told in newspapers that Iraq's power generation is almost back to its rate before the war. With all this, a big “new hope” factor is added. Nor more than a week later, electricity got so bad and it reached 8 hours a day. And since then it varies from 8-16 hours a day. So I say to myself, if at this time where people are neither using cooling devices nor heating devices and the electricity is that bad, what will happen in winter with all the heaters, and what about next summer? So much for the 'big new hope”.

Iraq changed its time to be +3 GMT (winter time). So now the sun sets at about 5:30 and it gets dark very early. No electricity means that shops start to close at about 7 or 8, but when there is electricity they stay till about 9 or 10. So electricity it is very important because electricity gives light, and light gives a feeling of security. I wonder how things will be in Ramadan. Baghdad used to stay awake till after midnight. Now 10 O'clock seems to be a record.


Schools have started -this is barely a positive factor ;-) I feel lucky not to have children at school, because every now and then, a school gets a threat (like bombing the school) in order to stop students from going to schools. This happened in a number of schools. I think most of the threats are just bluffing, but who wants to take such a risk. This is a big problem now. There are some people who just don't want life to be normal again.

There is another thing that is occurring more frequently now and that is kidnapping for a ransom. I have heard of quiet a few and I, at least, am sure of about 5 incidences.

Two days ago, the cousin of a college of mine in was kidnapped. Though many kidnapping gangs are getting caught by Iraqi police but still kidnapping news have become something normal to hear every now and then. Almost all of the kidnapped persons are from very wealthy families and from all ages, children to grown ups. The ransoms are usually in the range of few tens of thousands to few hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We are hearing a lot of news saying that people from Al Qaida and from everywhere had come to Iraq and they are behind some of the bombings. They Qaida even said that it was responsible for the bombing in Baghdad Hotel and they referred to it as a blessed act. I cannot image how they consider killing Iraqis a blessed act. So the US decided to fight terrorism and to push it away from its land. Now our country became the center of terrorism. Was that what they wanted?


I was supposed to go to Dubai-UAE to attend GITEX exhibition as I did every year for the past 4 years. To my surprise, UAE did not agree to give Visas to any Iraqi. And thus neither me nor anyone from my company attend the exhibition. So much for lifting the sanction. The UAE people said that they were instructed bye the CPA not to give visas to Iraqis because there are a lot of faked passports!

I was largely criticizes by some on showing only the dark side and being very pessimistic. Well, I tried not to do that, but then I felt like I was lying to myself. After all, my wife read this letter and her opinion was that I am making things look much better than what they really are!!! After all that, I cannot determine whether a "new hope" subject was adequate or not. You decide,

I’ll be interested in knowing your opinion.


Broken Promises, 24th of August

Hello friends,

Each day I write you a letter in my mind but I simply lost the will to put those letters into the computer. This time I fortunately did.
I just wanted to update you with what is happening here.

In my last letter, about a month ago, I told you that we used to have electricity for about 8-12 hours a day. We were promised (you know by whom) that electricity will get MUCH better after the 25th of July. Now its the 24th of August and we still have electricity for no more than 8-12 hours a day. The funny thing is that today in a press conference Mr. Brimer said that electricity DID GET MUCH BETTER. !!!!!! Well not in my country, perhaps he was referring to NY because it did get better there

As for fuel. Well the fuel queue shrieked from about a kilometer to about a 100 meters, plus minus 200 meters depending on I don't know what. Because one day you see tens of cars in queues the other day you see five or six. How come one day nobody has fuel and the other day everybody has, is out of my knowledge!!!

Going out with a new car (specially Peugeot or BMW) is still a great risk. There is a probability that you'll get shot (not necessarily murdered - thank God) and have your car taken. Unfortunately mine is a Peugeot, so my car has not left the garage for the past 4 months. Many many people still go out in new cars, but personally I am not willing to take that risk. To be honest, we used to hear about a car being stolen every day but now we hear that about once or twice a week. Now thats an improvement! This is the number I hear about and not the actual number of cars being stolen in all Baghdad.
I tried to get an old car but since there is no government, you cannot trust anyone to sell you a car. It might turn out to be stolen. So getting a car is not as simple as it may seem.
There are tens of thousands of used cars being imported (I am not exaggerating the number) from everywhere. But no one knows what will be the rules for their registration and whether one will have to pay any taxes or registration fees. They are all in the street and without plate numbers!!!

Many roads are stilled blocked by the US army. In facts the roads being blocked are increasing. The hanging bridge is still closed. This in addition to the increased number of cars (because of those being imported - and not taking my car out is not making the traffic any better ) is making a lot of traffic jams. We go out to work in the morning and we reach the office either in 20 minutes or in an hour.
We thought that those blockings were temporary. Specially the hanging bridge and some main highways leading to it. But it has been four months now and all what they did is blocked the "Abu Noas street - a very vital street" also. So it looks like they are not going to be opened soon.

Water is almost always there, but it is very week. No complains on this, though.

In my last message I also said that MCI announced that it will make its mobile service public in mid-july (at least I saw a formal paper from them saying so) but this turned out to be just another broken promise.
Many areas are still without any kind of telephone service because the phone exchangers in their plases was hit.

So in short, no noticeable improvement were seen in the past two months. This is only making people more desperate and those who were optimistic have now lost their optimism. I am one of those people.

When in a very short period you hear that a vital oil pipe was destroyed over an over again, and the Jordanian embassy (which is less than 2 Km from our house) gets attacked by a very large amount of explosives, same day an attack about 1 Km from where I work; and then what happened in the UN HQ, (you fill in the gabs with small explosions here and there). With all that, imagine the way we feel.
For the first time in my life, I started to think if I should consider leaving my country. I am simply loosing hope.
Each day we hear some bad news of all kinds. ranging from people being robbed, to killed, to explosions, ... etc. You always start your day with something to destroy the rest of the day for you. Consider that for a life.

From the experience we had in the past few months. Almost all the promises we were given, were broken. Even when they said they'll make passports in mid october (though not important) it also turned out to be another broken promise.

A week a go I went to get my fathers retirement payment. it was 60$ and they give the payment for all the retired people in Baghdad in one month and in one place and my dads turn was at 12Aug. It was 52 degrees that day. (A fact: More than 3000 people died in France because the temperature reached 42).
All the people there are over 60, and they have to stand in queues outdoors. Is this how the Americans look at human rights. During the period I was in the queue two persons fainted. Was it difficult to do it like they old days. Each from the bank closest to his residence?
Bye the way, the 60$ were for three months!!

A friend of mine asked me if we get to see the American soldiers often. Well you can hardly go out for more than 15 minutes without seeing a patrol or two. Helicopters are almost always there. Yesterday when I was sleeping at the roof (where most Iraqis sleep nowadays because of the absence of electricity) A helicopter came so low that I were almost able to reach out and touch it. Picture this. you sleeping safe and sound, and suddenly you wake up on the sound of a helicopter no more than 10 meters above of you. If you don't believe it was that close, well here is the proof: I saw it in the dark WITHOUT WEARING MY GLASSES. Do you believe me now?
We are closer to nature than any time before. We spend a lot of time in the garden and we sleep at the roof in the night just counting the bright start in the very dark surroundings.

I know I might sound too pesimistic in this letter but this is only because I feel that way. Things might be better than how I see them or will be soon, but unfortunately I see things this way.


Second letter dated at 1 July 03

Dear friends,

If you wonder why I haven't sent you anything lately; well, I started writing a long letter a week ago but while describing the extremely bad situation we were in last week (All Baghdad stayed without electricity for more than 3 days with very weak water or none in some places, plus a big fuel shortage for generators and cars), I was listening to the coalition broadcasting for the Iraqi people. They ware talking about all low priority stuff like printing "New passports" for Iraqis, Mr. Primer attending a Symphony for the Iraqi Symphony group, and such stuff, without any mentioning of the fact that about 5 million people were living under a temperature of 47 degrees and without electricity and water for three days :-/ You know, I reviewed my "dream list" back then; there was no "New passports" in it. It just contained three simple wishes: Electricity, Water, and Security.

(This will make a nice motto instead of the old famous "Unity, Freedom, and Socialism", I might as well start a party of my own with this motto. It will sure make me very popular).

Are such wishes to much to ask in the new millennium, and when you are under the occupation of the greatest power in the world?

If you say be patient. Well, apart from the last 23 years, remember the ex-regime has fallen for about three months now.

Back to the letter I intended to write. So while listening to these great news, I felt so desperate and frustrated (Not from the Americans actually, but from the situation we are in), that I simply tore the message.

The situation here is getting more complicated. You are hearing about the killing of the US soldiers every day. Neither me, nor anyone I know agrees to this.

This should not be the way to solve thing. It is only making things worse. US soldiers are getting so tense in dealing with people. If such acts are not stopped, we will never have peace.

There are also the destructive acts being done by unknown groups. They are destroying vital resources like electricity, water, and oil pipes.

Some say they are people loyal to the ex-regime, trying to make things so bad to make people hope for its return.

Others, say they are from Iran, just damaging the country.

Some even say that they are done by the Americans to keep people busy with such stuff (A policy that the ex-regime used to follow).

I, personally, am getting more convinced by the first opinion.

What depresses people here is that there seems to be no short-term solution to all this. Electricity, water, and oil pipes are an easy target and hence we will always feel threatened, specially when we think of July and August ahead. "The true heat is yet to come".

Nevertheless, we have no choice but to wait and see if the promises being given to us will be fulfilled, and lets only hope for the best.

As for other aspects of our life here:

- Do you know that the number of newspapers reached 73 and the count is increasing. The same for Parties. We have two persons claiming the throne (if there will ever be one). People here have no respect for almost all of these parties. Most of them just took the buildings they like illegally and make them their centers. Imagine a party steals a building when it starts and expects to be respected.

- The best job for anyone now is selling cold Pepsi on the road. The customers are often US soldiers trying to survive the heat. The amount of Pepsi trucks you see being unloaded everyday is incredible.

- Finally, the mobile network, which is being installed by MCI, has started working. It is still limited now but it is supposed to extend to public use mid-July. Thy funny thing is that our code is the same as New York. So we are considered as if we are in New York!!!!!!! I will try to get a mobile soon. Then you can call me with very cheap prices because international calls to the US is always the cheapest and as you know - We are in NY :-)


Well, Before I start adding new stuff, I will add the letters that I've previously sent to my friends. Those letters were widely spread, and thats why I decided to make this blog.
I will start with my first letter, then the others according to date.

My first letter dated at 14 June 03

Dear friends,

Being rather sick for more than a week, and being board also, I will tell you about the dark side of things for the situation we are living now a days.


I hope you will not block me after this long boring message, but I want to put those not living here in the picture.

Each letter I write about a certain thing that comes to my mind. We have lived very very strange days, that I cannot just let them go by without sharing them with someone.

In the days right after the fall of Saddam (because I don't like saying the fall of Baghdad), the situation here was like you see in movies like Madmax and other science fiction movies of cities after hundreds of years where there is no law and only gangs. We are more back to reality now. And if any of you worry about their parents here. I assure you that there has been not a single case were personal homes were robbed or attacked. The only robbery occurring is for public places and unfortunately for personal cars and only of certain type.

First, I will start with electricity. For the last two days, the electricity was 3x3 and for those of you not familiar with such an expression (unlike us), this means that we have electricity for 3 hours, then we spend the other three waiting for the next three hours. It is a beautiful way for letting days go by. Taking into consideration that today's Max temperature was 47 degrees, then you'll know one of the reasons behind my feeling of :( and :-/

Another annoying thing about this 3x3 schema is that you have your on and off period repeat everyday, that is we always spend the hours 3-6, 9-12 without electricity. In the old days they used a little more intelligent approach where the off periods used to shift daily. Maybe these days and due to the absence of the inspiring leader we used to have, the electricity people are unable to figure out a way to shift the on/off periods.

Second, the traffic. In the old days, one gets very unfortunate if his care stops (lets say because of a puncture) in the highway leading to the presidential palace. If so, security people will suddenly come out from everywhere asking you all kind of weird questions like why did your tire decide to puncture in this street!; then they take your papers and ask you to collect them later.

The Americans, and since they made the main presidential palace their main headquarters, took a much simpler approach to solving the security issue. They simply blocked the highway leading to the palace and of course with it, the very vital, “hanging bridge”. And as for the Adhamiay presidential palace, they narrowed the road in front of the palace (which is very important) to one lane. So, some of you remember the traffic jams we used to have back in 1991 after the war (specially on our way to college back then) and imagine a checkpoint on the Jaderiah bridge that checks every car for weapons (not of mass destruction, I think). So one can easily be caught in a 1-2 hours traffic jam. And when I remind you of the weather's temperature, you can image the amount of roses we will be willing to through at the Americans when we see them.

People found a solution to this problem. Since there is no law. Why not go wrong side. So in any raod (including highways) now you should not get surprised if you see a car coming directly towards you.

One good thing to mention, is that the fuel problem is now solved by importing fuel from nearby countries. Imagine Iraq importing fuel!!. Before that the cars queue for fuel used to reach about 4Km (yes 4Km without exaggeration), which in itself caused a lot of traffic jams.

Yesterday, I took (or tried to take) a decision to return to using my car (note that the Peugeot is the car robbers favorite). My family, being a against the idea, spread the word, and I received few phone calls with all kind of armed car robbery stories that I courage sly backed up. In fact I might consider removing the tires… I might take a step backward

During the war where we used to hear the sound of tens of explosions all over Baghdad, I never got afraid. I used the probability theory to figure out that the chance that a missile will give up its target in and head for me was extremely small. But the same theory did not work with me as far as my car is concerned. Maybe bacuese I (sadly) trust the Americans technology more than the randomness of our robbers.

Now, if you are wondering about where do I stand in all this situation we are living in? The answer is, I don't know.

During Saddam's days, things were getting worse every day and I could not see any hope of things getting better. He was destroying very basic things like the education system, and the police system.

But now, though I hate having my country being occupied, I have a little hope that things might get better. They will steal our money, which was already being stolen, but they will probably leave us to manage other things for better. And in modern occupation, they always give you something in return for what they take, even though you might not need it.

If one calculates the amount of money the Americans saved for Iraq by reducing the percentage we used to pay Kuwait, and if the Americans succeeded in removing some of Iraq's depts., it will make up for some of the oil money they will steal. It is an ugly equation but I believe it is true.

When we go out in the streets we do see American solders everywhere. But luckily I was not put in a situation where I had to talk to one, because till this moment I do not know how I will react. Will I be friendly, or aggressive. You may get surprised in my undetermined state (logic theory has great effect on me). I myself am surprised. But this is the way things are. We (or at least me) are so fed up with all this talk about Jihad, fighting, wars, fake patriotism, and worthless mottos that I don't want to hear anything of this anymore. I just want to live without a war for several years! Is that much to ask?


- Did you know that on FM, we now have BBC Arabic/English plus a channel called Sawa (an American channel in Arabic, they have one for the Arab region, and one specially for Iraq).

- Did you know that we have an uncountable number of newspapers now. Some say 36. Some of them daily, and the others weekly. Most of them are full of crap and you get surprised to how low people can get. People are so busy finding the pitfalls of the past regime, that they leave no time to think of the future. I don't know why don't they just leave the bad days behind, and work for better days to come.

PS: I wrote this message two days ago and was unable to send it till now. So here is an update.

They solved the problem of the electricity table being repeated every day by giving us only 6 hours of electricty a day and these hours come randomly distributed in random priods ranging from 50-120 minutes. It is said that some destructive acts were taken in the south at the power distrubition lines

The communication between the main phone exchangers which was restored a week a go is now gone

The only good new is that my health is getting a little better.


Ahmed Kharrufa