Monday, April 24, 2006

My Basrah

By guest blogger Queen Amidala
From Basrah, Iraq

Dear Fay,

Here I am writing to you about my dear city. My Basrah.

First of all, you should know that currently there isn't real police in Basrah. We only have the militia.

The British troops have become very weak lately and I don't know why. But, it's been a while since the situation has gotten bad.

On 4th of April, the British troops received a very bad blow to them. Maybe more to their ego to be more precise. On that day, the British Embassy (consulate) was celebrating the Queen's birthday and it seems that they were hit by a mortar attack during the celebration. Since then, they seem to be going around themselves in endless circles.

In general, I had GREAT EXPECTATIONS in them. I had it in the coalition forces too. But, these were illusions.

You have to know that now in Basrah there is killing between Sunni and Shia like in Baghdad.

Last week, 11 construction workers were killed. They all worked at the same company which is an Iraqi company named Al Fayhaa. It's a very respectable Iraqi company. Those 11 were all Shia and they weren't just ordinary workers. Among them were the best engineers in the city. The week after, three doctors were killed. One of them was one of the best doctors in Basrah. During the same week, they killed a university teacher and the list is going on.

One of my co-workers is Sunni. He was very upset the other day because his Shia neighbor of 14 years stopped talking to him just because he is Sunni.

In Basrah we have a lot of Sunni-Shia mixed families. They never felt the impact of the religious intolerance until now.

And Fay, they will turn to us [The Christians] in the near future. I heard rumors that it has already started in Baghdad.

What makes the situation more badly is that most companies and projects stopped functioning here. Companies are closing and projects are starting to stop because everyone is afraid of going to work sites. Even doctors, who are the most dedicated people to their work, are starting to stay home for their own safety.

I went to Baghdad a few weeks ago. I was astonished of the bravery of Baghdadis. We used to be like that in Basra during the Iraq-Iran war; but not any more. In Baghdad, people go out on the streets and shop normally like nothing is happening around. If that isn't bravery, then I don't know what it is.

In Basrah, we can hardly go out to buy simple things without being afraid.

In Baghdad, girls wear pants and a large number of them don't wear a headscarf without anyone saying anything to them. In Basrah, I can hardly walk the street without hearing some nasty remarks. [She doesn't wear a headscarf]

And please I don't like to hear some remarks like , "Well, you should change the entire situation yourselves." My answer will be very nasty.


Queen Amidala

UPDATE Apr. 24, 2006
Reporters Without Borders published the following press release on their Web site:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the murder of Koussai Kahdban, an Iraqi journalist with local radio station Al-Bilad, who was shot by gunmen on 22 April in Baghdad. His death brought the number of journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003 to 88, of whom 12 have been killed since the beginning of 2006.


UPDATE Apr. 25, 2006
GOA [Government Accountability Office] suggests Basrah province is in a "serious" condition:

WASHINGTON -- Eight of Iraq's 18 provinces are dangerously unstable and violent, not just the four usually cited.
Six provinces - Ninevah, Tamim [Kirkuk], Salah ah Din, Diyala, Baghdad and Basrah - are in "serious" condition. Their provincial governments are not fully formed or not capable off serving the needs of the populace; economic development is stagnant and unemployment is high; and the security situation is marked by routine insurgent activity, assassination and extremism.


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