Sunday, February 08, 2004
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.