- It's coming apart at the seams now in Iraq. We saw on
the news today that members of the Mehdi Army in the south, the militia
of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, exchanged gunfire with members of the ING
(Iraqi National Guard) who in the south are primarily, if not entirely
composed of members of the Badr Army, also a Shia group. So now we have
Shia fighting Shia.
- Meanwhile in Baghdad, things are just as bad. Abu Talat,
my friend and interpreter, was speaking with his family who live in the
al-Adhamiya district of the capital city. Just across the Tigris River
from Adhamiya, which is predominantly Sunni, is the predominantly Shia
- A car bomb detonated inside Khadamiyah which killed at
least one ING, so people in that area began firing guns across the Tigris
into Adhamiyah. According to two sources in Adhamiyah, they confirmed there
was heavy damage to several houses-broken windows, bullet pockmarked walls,
etc. When people inside Adhamiyah began returning fire, a US warplane bombed
a small mosque on the Adhamiyah side of the Tigris, for yet unknown reasons.
- Abu Talat was talking via IM with his wife as she nearly
fainted because bombs and gunfire were so near their home.
- "What can I do," Abu Talat asked me from a
nearby computer at an internet café, "My family is in great
danger and what can I do to help them?"
- I stared at him dumblythere was no response.
- I helped find phone numbers of friends and other family
members of his around Baghdad to try to go check on his family. He called
them five times, constantly monitoring their situation while he was crying.
Between calls he set the phone down to hold his head in his hands.
- Abu Talat later spoke with his sister, who informed him
that Iraqi soldiers were raiding houses in her neighborhood and detaining
men of "fighting age," which if we go by the US military definition
of such when they do home raids, means men roughly between the ages of
- "They almost took my nephew," Abu Talat told
me in frustration, "But thanks to his father telling them that his
son is a doctor and never leaves the home nowadays, they let him be."
- Abu Talat had his two young sons go with his wife over
to a relatives home so they would not be detained. Although one of his
sons, Ahmed, is merely 14 years old. Ahmed is a soft-spoken, gentle boy
who wouldn't hurt a fly.
- When I was in Baghdad in February, one day we were taking
tea in the home of Abu Talat. Ahmed came out and began shining the shoes
of his father.
- "You don't need to do this in front of Dahr,"
said Abu Talat to his youngest son.
- "You are my father, and I am your son," replied
Ahmed, "I wish to shine your shoes. Dahr understands that this is
what a son does for his father."
- Abu Talat beamed and held up his hands with a huge smile
on his face.
- My friend Aisha who is here, also an Iraqi, has a friend
who lives in Adhamiyah.
- "He just left the day before this all happened to
bring his sick son to Amman for cancer treatment," she tells me while
we sit under palm trees and a nearly full moon later that evening while
having dinner with her mother.
- Her friend believes his son has DU poisoning.
- "He learned that one of the rooms of his home was
destroyed by a missile shot from an American helicopter," she added
while shaking her head.
- Things quieted down in Baghdad after the events of the
20th, as well as the next day, relatively.
- However, today Abu Talat came over to me in a panic and
asked for Ahmed's mobile number.
- "He's just been shot at," he tells me as I
feel the panic with my friend and begin finding the number of his son.
- Ahmed was walking down the street when two men demanded
his ring and his mobile. When Ahmed started yelling "Thieves, Thieves,"
they kicked him to the groun and shot their pistols over his head. At gunpoint,
the two men commenced to loot him.
- Abu Talat received the information from his oldest son,
then called home to find that his youngest son was home crying, but alright.
- "He has his exams tomorrow and now he is sleeping,"
Abu Talat explains with tears in his eyes, "He is alright but terribly
- This is the life in Baghdad today. This is the life of
having a dear friend whose family is living in peril and his attempts to
remain in contact with them from Amman. This is one family in a city of
5.5 million Iraqis, struggling to survive the brutal, chaotic, lawlessness
caused by the Anglo-American occupation that has destroyed their country.
- More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com
- (c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
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