Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Interviewing The Iraqi Sabrina

Last August, I interviewed The Fair Lady from Basra. This time, I'm interviewing an Iraqi lady from Baghdad. I asked her the same questions I asked The Fair Lady.

As usual, the hardest part is to agree on a nickname. We both agreed on the nickname Sabrina. We happened to both like Harrison Ford's romantic movie "Sabrina."And who doesn't like the handsome Ford?

So, here are Sabrina's answers. I hope you enjoy reading them with an open mind.

Before Removal of Saddam From Power
  1. Q: How good or bad was the life of Baghdadis before April 2003?

    A: Things were quiet. Just quiet. Everyone should keep silent. There were no voices to scream or just say any opinion. But, there was electricity and clean streets and no explosions! Before and after 2003 are both bad. Each has its good and bad sides.

  2. Q: How good or bad was the electricity in Baghdad before April 2003?

    A: During summer: three hours off at the day and three hrs off at night (i.e. 6 /24 per day).

    During winter: Things were better.

    I'm talking about Baghdad because in the south things were much worse than that. Saddam used to care about the capital more than other cities in the country.

  3. Q: How good or bad was the water supply for Baghdadi homes before April 2003?

    A: Actually, in my area it's good before and after 2003. I live in a suburb in the city center. But in the periphery it's bad sometimes.

    We have special way of collecting water. We fill the tank in the ground floor. Then when it fills during night we bump it up to two tanks on the roof of our house using a motor. We learned this from our previous experience in Basra, so that we always have a stored water so we don't feel it if the supply is off for hours.

  4. Q: How good or bad was the health system in Baghdad before April 2003?

    A: So Bad. During the 90s, it was hell. No drugs or supplements. Even the most simple things as urine bags, catheters or canulas for I.V line were difficult to obtain. Health workers were so lazy as the salaries were so low. So, no one wanted to work or bother himself/herself. Poor people were really suffering and it was torture to me to work two years after graduation in these hospitals from 1995 to 1997.

  5. Q: How secure did Baghdadi women feel while traveling to work, shopping or visiting family and friends before April 2003?

    A: It was almost safe. My aunts used to travel from Babylon to Baghdad [less than 3-hour road trip] so safely. Now they can't. Going shopping was safe. During summer, we used to shop until 9:00pm. Now we are home by 7:00 at the latest.

  6. Q: What type of entertainment did Baghdadi families have before April 2003?

    A: There aren't many entertainment places in Baghdad, except for the clubs (Al-Alwiya and Al-Sayd), restaurants or the wedding parties. But there was social life and family visits. These have decreased so much now as the safest place is to stay home.

After Removal of Saddam from Power
  1. Q: How good or bad has the life of Baghdadis become after April 2003?

    A: There is no real life. What we are in is not life. It cannot be called life because of the continuous fear. Looting period was something I can't even describe.
    Stealing the Iraqi museum is so much pain. Everything after that is full of sadness.

    Yes we are free now to talk and say our opinion but no one listens or cares. I reached a point that I don't believe or trust anyone. The only one who achieved what he promised was Bush the father. He said I'll make Iraq return to the era before the industrial revolution and he really did.

  2. Q: How good or bad has the electricity become in Baghdad after April 2003?

    A: It's bad. All that we got is 8 hours per day. You know? Sometimes all I wish for is to switch on the light early morning so I can wear my makeup in sufficient light or have hot bread in the oven for breakfast. But these are rare days when I wake up and there is electricity.

    People here don't believe that the American who brought all these tanks by airplanes can't bring the necessary machines to fix the electricity back. It's not terrorists or insurgents who slow down the rehabilitation but the will. They just don't care or don't want us to have a normal life. This is what I started to believe lately.

    It's not an impossible mission .We have oil and money, and America have the technology so why can't we have what the poorest country in the world have?

    I do believe if someone decides to do his job properly, nobody can stop him.

  3. Q: How good or bad has the water supply become for Baghdadi homes after April 2003?

    A: I guess worse for many districts. But honestly not in my district.

  4. Q: How good or bad has the health system become in Baghdad after April 2003?

    A: The same routine and corruption at the Ministry of Health. We don't have enough hospitals yet. And, with the number of injured people everyday, it even gets worse.

    There aren't new contracts for new equipments like MRI or CTscans, All we have is from the oil for food deals before 2003.

    There is really a lot of money spent on minor things instead of the necessary needs.

  5. Q: How secure do Baghdadi women feel when traveling from home to work, shop or visit family and friends after April 2003?

    A: I pray before leaving home and after returning home safely.

  6. Q: What type of entertainment do Baghdadi families have since April 2003?

    A: Most people are depressed .You'll rarely find someone smiling in the street. There's no sound of laughs.

The American Troops
  1. Q: Do Baghdadis see the American troops as protectors of the local people?

    A: No, they are protectors of themselves. During the first months after the war, I loved these troops. They liberated us and I do believe in that. Without them, we would have been under Saddam regime for another twenty or thirty years. I'm grateful for that. But these soldiers are here either for money or to get an American green card. They are not here to protect us.

    NOTE FROM FAY: Eric, if you're reading this, then you can clarify to Sabrina why the soldiers are in Iraq.

  2. Q: Do you think Baghdadis were going to be better off with British troops guarding the city?

    A: It's the same. Insurgents will attack them and the troops will become aggressive and shot randomly.

  3. Q: Do you think pulling out the American troops from Baghdad will make any difference to the city's way of life? Do you feel more or less secure with the American troops around?

    A: The troops shouldn't withdraw from Iraq now. With the troops around, I feel less secure because they are themselves the target of the insurgents. So being near the target is not safe. But we still need them as our army is really weak and it may never become strong.

  4. Q: What could the American troops do to minimize the daily bombing in the city?

    A: They should secure Iraqi borders with its neigbours.

Iraqi Police and Army
  1. Q: How much control do the Iraqi police and army forces have in the city?

    A: During the day, they control it. But I heard that during late night there's no control. A man told me that when he took his wife one night to the hospital, the streets were empty and anyone can plant a bomb freely.

  2. Q: When do you think Iraqi policemen and army forces will be ready to take control of the city?

    A: I don't really know.

  3. Q: Do you think there are many or few corrupt Iraqi policemen?

    A: Few but they're effective and harmful.

  4. Q: Do Baghdadis trust Iraqi police and army?

    A: Yes, there are really good people among them. But the parties' militias are the bad ones who do all the bad things.

Elections, Constitution and the Future
  1. Q: What do you think of the Iraqi constitution regarding women rights?

    A: I didn't care about it as things on the ground are so bad. What's the importance of writing all these words that no one will obey?!

  2. Q: Where in Iraq do women currently have the most freedom?

    A: In the north (Kurdistan) because in the south it's something like Taliban rules. No woman dares to walk without hijab there.

  3. Q: Do you think Iraqis will vote for more secular parties during the next elections?

    A: I hope so.

  4. Q: How do you see Iraq in 10 years?

    A: This question made me cry! I didn't think I could live for the next 10 years surviving all these bombs, shells and bullets.

    Older people (my father & his friends ) think it'll be better and they don't think there is a danger of civil war.

  5. Q: Do you think there was a better way to remove Saddam than war?

    A: No.No way. The decision of the war was so good. But holding things after the war was so bad.

  6. Q: Do you think there is a possibility of Iraq turning into an Iranian-style theocracy?

    A: No. Iraq is different from Iran & Iraqis will resist that style.

  7. Q: Are there any other things you want the outside world to know about life in Baghdad?

    A: I know that the outside world is feeling pity for us. They know that people are different than their governments and it's not their fault. It's all Saddam's fault. He destroyed his country.


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