Tuesday, May 18, 2004
“All generalizations are false, including this one. “ (Blaise Pascal)

Dear friends,

My last letter was not long time ago, but I had a lot to talk about so here is another letter which again turned out to be a long one.

What to believe?

I have heard many stories about the behavior of American solders that I did not believe. I did not believe them because many people are continuously spreading all kinds of rumors just to increase hatred against the Americans. I did not believe them not because I thought that American solders are saints but because I thought that they were strongly prohibited from committing any act that may jeopardize the US army’s reputation in front of the world and Iraqis specially.

I’ve heard of American solders stealing gold and money from the houses they search,

I’ve heard of American solders mutilating bodies in Falloojah as an act of revenge,

I’ve heard of American solders killing Iraqis on the streets for the silliest reasons or because of the smallest doubt that they may cause any threat,

I’ve heard of American solders arresting Iraqis for no reason at all, and finally

I’ve heard of American solders abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib.

Not only did I refused to believe these stories, but I used to mock the people who told them arguing that the Americans would not do that because they don’t need to, and because they cannot risk destroying the image they are trying to build for their army. The army whose sole purpose in life is to help people in all the world to gain freedom and democracy and to help people to enjoy their HUMAN RIGHTS. I don’t see why they did not believe me then!!

But now…
The story I refused to believe about prisoners abuse was not only true, but it turned out to be a cut down version of the ugly truth. The real version was much worse.

This forced me to review all the stories I’ve heard and refused to believe. Are they all true or only some of them? Are they exaggerated, or are they only part of the truth? How am I supposed to know what to believe now? I definitely will not rely on my –proved to be illogical- logic any more.

I will gather all my courage and say with extreme frankness that for a moment I felt relieved because the news of the prisoners abuse have shown the Americans, who after the falloojah mutilation event mistakenly thought that all Iraqis are inhuman, it showed them that IT IS NOT RIGHT to judge a nation by the acts of a minority. If this generalization is applied on Iraqis, then should we apply it on the Americans?

It is strange how fate have put the American people in the same position Iraqis were put in after the Falloojah mutilation event. God does work in mysterious ways.

I wrote the first draft of this letter few days ago, and before I send it, came the horrible news of the brutal killing of Nicholas Berg in Iraq. I just want to say to those who did this “Don’t do it in my name. Not as an Iraqi, not as an Arab, and definitely not as a Muslim”.

“All generalizations are false, including this one. “ (again Blaise Pascal)

Another subject

For the past few days, each day I got used to wake up at about 7:00am due to the sound of an explosion. I look at the clock, discover that I have yet few more minutes before I have to actually wake up for work, then return to sleep instantaneously. Yesterday, It took me few minutes to return back to sleep (which is quite unusual) and it crossed my mind that just at this moment, few more HUMANS (Iraqis and/or Americans) had just died….. It may seem rude of me to say that I did return to sleep after that but that is what actually happened. Please forgive me because I cannot allow myself to keep thinking in such a dramatic way in a country were one usually hears a minimum of three to four explosions a day. It is a thought that crossed my mind for a moment and which I wanted to share.

Today I woke up on the sound of machine guns. No explosion today, just machine guns. I wonder if this is considered an improvement in the security situation or not?

Today on my way back home from work, I was forced to change my way because the road leading to where I live was blocked by Iraqi police saying that there is a land mine planted in the street at about 300meters from where I live. In the end, it turned out to be a false alarm. I told this story just to give you a glimpse of how we are living our everyday life.


Back in the old days (pay attention that I did not say ‘the good old days’) the road to where I work was about 15Km and it used to take me about 20 minutes to get there. I used to cross the river driving over the “Hanging Bridge” which passes through what is now called “The Green Zone”, then drive through “Abu No’as” street which extends along the river bank looking over the Green Zone from the other side of the river.

After the war, the Americans blocked the Hanging bridge and many other roads which caused very heavy traffic over the alternative Jadriah bridge, making the road to work about 17Km and taking about 45-90 minutes.

After the car explosion about a week ago near the Hanging bridge, the Americans blocked “Abu No’as” road too and again increasing even further the distance and time required to reach my company.

I wonder what more roads will be blocked in the future and whether I will be able to reach my working place or not. Please don’t block any more roads. I just want to reach my company. Is that too much to ask?


I’ve been asked by many people about the situations of hospitals in Iraq. We keep hearing speeches from American officials on how all hospitals are fully functional now and how they are being rehabilitated and some more wonderful talk.

I’ll mention two stories and leave the judgment to you.

The first story is about one of the main children hospitals in Baghdad where my sister works as a pharmacist. She has been working there since before the war, so my first question to her was whether we can say that the situation in the hospital now is better than it was in Saddam’s days. Her answer to my surprise was “NO, the situation is pretty much the same. The only mentionable difference is the salaries of the people working there.” I will mention few more notes about the current situation of the hospital (but excuse my translation of some medical terms. I only hope that you will understand what I mean in general)

- The amounts of the drugs are almost the same without any noticeable increase in the supply of drugs.

- The supply of other medical devices like syringes and canulas (a device inserted into the patient’s hand for injecting medicine and liquids) is also the same with periods of shortage in many items till the hospital receives some donations.

- The alleged rehabilitation is nothing more than repainting some walls specially outer ones leaving most of the elevators, the sewage system, and the leaking roofs as they are.

- Many Ambulances are not functional and those functional are not equipped with any medical equipment.

- In the ‘blood disorders’ section, there are times when two children are forced to share the same bed.

- In many cases children leave the hospitals with more illnesses than they entered because of the very weak sterilization.

- Some of the “Intensive care” units were closed after the war because of the lack of maintenance and specially to the sewage system.

- No air conditioning!

- An important observation that lacks a proof, and which my sister had heard from other hospitals too is that the rates of deaths and specially among children have increased after the war!

And the list goes on and on.

The other story is from the eyes of a patient or to be more accurate the family of a patient.

The father in-law of a friend of mine had a heart attack and was taken to one of the main public hospitals that contains some equipments not available in other hospitals. His words describing the hospital were “This is not a hospital, it is more like a trash can! Blood is on the walls and all over the place. We were unable to use the main medical instrument that we needed because at that moment there was no national supply of electrical power and the hospital was supplied from its standby power generator which cannot be used to operate that instrument”.

After less than 24 hours, the patient’s wife insisted that he should be taken to a private hospital even though such a hospital may not contain all the required equipment. “At least private hospitals are cleaner”, she said.

Despite all that, we should not forget the fact that “All generalizations are false, including this one”. Do I like this quote or what?

For those of you who want to argue, I know that many of the above problems in hospitals are caused by, and can be solved by Iraqis, and the Americans have nothing to do with them. I was asked about the current situation of the hospitals and I am replying to this question. It is up to you to decide who should get the blame. Iraqis got used to carelessness in public organizations, they were almost trained for it. I hoped that they will be taught to act more responsible. I hoped that they will be supervised more closely. I hoped for many other things none of which came true. Now I only hope that I never need to go into a hospital, a much less noble goal, yet as difficult to achieve.

Finally, some of you have asked me about my previous letters. They can all be found either on my blog on www.thoughts04.blogspot.com or on the great site www.frombaghdadtonewyork.com then “Letters from Baghdad”.

Yours sincerely,
Ahmed Kharrufa