War voices: ‘Mohammed’

Al Jazeera asks five people for their memories of the war and its aftermath.

Mohammed says he felt great anger as Saddam’s statue was pulled down [GALLO/GETTY]

‘Mohammed’ is a young Iraqi dentist who writes a blog entitled “Last of Iraqis”, detailing his life under occupation in Baghdad and his unsuccessful attempts to leave the country and its violence.

External link

Click here to read the
Last of Iraqis blog

“On March 20, 2003 the sirens woke me up. It’s the war.

I hate that sound more than anything else, I ran downstairs from my bedroom to see what’s on TV, we had a satellite receiver at that time although it was illegal to have one.

My family and I were switching channels when the first missiles hit Baghdad, I saw it on TV at the same moment, it was horrifying and heart breaking, it’s true that we have been through two wars before, it’s true that I lived all my life except for two years in wars or in its consequences but this one was different.

The air raids were at night, so during the day life was somehow normal. We, like most Iraqis, made a well, stored supplies and fuel.


In Focus

In depth coverage on the fifth anniversary of the
Iraq invasion

During the early days of war I used to go out, visit my friends to see if they have survived the night and we would stay together till dusk, that’s when I had to get back home and the shop owners start to close their shops.

We managed the situation well until Baghdad’s electricity was attacked, and with it the fuel became scarce and that was the beginning of the hard days … the attacks increased and it was in the morning also, that’s when we felt that it was a really fierce war.

Many of my friends and relatives left Baghdad to Diyala or Anbar [Iraqi provinces] but we decided to stay home, if we are going to die then it should be in our home.

At noon of April 9, 2003 my family and a distant relative’s family (who was a professor) were sitting in our living room watching news as always … and we saw the most shocking, non-imaginable scene on TV – the US troops surrounding Saddam’s statue.

I remember when the US soldier covered the statue’s head with the American flag, I felt great anger, not because I love Saddam but because this is the Iraqi president and they are making fun of him, and humiliating us.

That night I couldn’t sleep, I stayed awake thinking of what might happen to Iraq, to Iraqis and to us, I spent the night thinking of what will it be, but I never imagined it would be like this, I never did.

At that time I though the US government will keep its word, I thought Iraq will be a free, democratic and luxurious country, or in the worst cases it would be better than before … how naive I was!

From resistance to terrorism

ectarian violence escalated in a frightening way it was like cancer taking over Iraq’s body, harvesting innocent souls, feeding from fear and hatred, making life even more difficult

Later the resistance started in Adhamiya [Baghdad neighbourhood] … it was a resistance at that time but gradually it turned to something else. It turned gradually to terrorism.

Day after day the situation was deteriorating, every new day worse than the one before. It started with Iraqis killed by explosions and road side bombs then the killing of high-ranked members in the former army then the kidnappers started killing their kidnapped even if the ransom was paid.

Later there was the fierce campaign to kill, threaten or displace doctors, dentists, scientists, professors and merchants in fact it was a campaign to get rid of any one who is capable of rebuilding Iraq. It was a campaign to kill Iraq’s brain.

Then there were the various attempts to start the civil war and ignite the sectarian violence which was going from one failure to another by the patriotic Iraqis, until that dark day which I’ll never be able to forget as long as I lived, when the holy shrines of the two Askari Imams in Samara was attacked.

It was the perfect opportunity for the seekers of Iraq’s destruction to start acting quickly to ignite the sectarian hatred and violence.

From that day on the sectarian violence escalated in a frightening way it was like cancer taking over Iraq’s body, harvesting innocent souls, feeding from fear and hatred, making life even more difficult.

Personal loss

Voices from the Iraq war

‘Yasmin’ is an Iraqi woman who fled the violence and now lives in Sweden

‘Mohammed’ is an Iraqi dentist who lives in Baghdad

Camilo Mejia is a former US soldier and Iraq war veteran

Tom Basile is a former spokesman for the CPA, the US-run transitional government in Iraq post-invasion

Roland Huguenin-Benjamin is a former Red Cross spokesman who worked in Iraq during the invasion

Click on the names above to read their stories

During these five years I have experienced everything, two of my relatives kidnapped, six of the people I know closely – including relatives and close friends – have been killed.

I can’t count the number of people that I know who were murdered, my niece who was seven-years-old who died in an explosion, most of my friends and relatives have left the country, I watched my teachers and college professors being killed or kidnapped one after the other.

Me and my wife have been targeted by a national guard sniper for a reason I didn’t know till this moment – my family have been threatened and forced to leave the country.

I tried desperately to find a job [in Jordan] but like most of Iraqis, I couldn’t. I’m just one Iraqi and I have such losses, imagine 28 million one like me, how much more losses can the Iraqis have?

I remember when I returned to Baghdad in the beginning of 2007 … when I saw the abandoned streets, the destroyed buildings and the exploded car bodies laying in the street without a single human being walking there, I couldn’t handle my self, I burst into tears and cried.

I continued crying as I passed by every neighborhood remembering how it was and how it is now. When I reached a checkpoint for the police they stopped us, they wanted to kidnap me but thanks to my wife’s tears and all the money I have in my wallet, they let me go.

‘Stand together’

e [Iraqis] must stand together, forget our personal interests and focus on the most important thing; our country”

Five years have passed since the invasion of Iraq, five years of blood and tears, five years of horror, death, grief and sorrow.

Everyone should do something to put an end to this. The US government should accelerate its movements, not only because they have invaded Iraq and they should do what they have promised but for their people, soldiers and their families, for their economy which is deteriorating.

I don’t want the US troops to leave just like that and leave everything as it is, they are in Iraq and they should leave it at least when it’s like it used to be.

We Iraqis must love each other and help each other rebuilding our country, we must put aside our differences because we used to live in peace and love despite those differences, we must stand together and forget our personal interests and focus on the most important thing; our country.

Let us be united so we can be strong again.”

Source : Al Jazeera

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