Sunday, February 08, 2004
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.