September 13, 2007
Two Left Iraq
It is, one presumes, just a coincidence; but two familiar Iraqi bloggers both left Iraq within the last few days. Although they lived thousands of miles away, we've come to know them very well... one as a respected thinker and member of the most well-known families of Iraqi bloggers in the dextrosphere; the other as an anti-American hack who bemoans the fall of Saddam Hussein, and is very likely the daughter of a former high-ranking Baathist.
Let's take the last first...
A blogger who has been known to us only as "Riverbend," but whom we Lizards disaffectionately refer to "Rubberband," decided to high-tail it out of Iraq back in April. However, after announcing her intention, she exprienced a series of delays due to curfews and the untimely death of her driver's brother. But a few days ago, Rubberband and her parents and a couple of other familiy members finally found their chance to leave Iraq, and good riddance. Surprise, surprise, their destination was Syria, where they are now ex-pats (along with many and many another Baathist exile).
It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.
The day Rubberband and her family were packing the car, another Iraqi left Iraq. His name is Omar, and he is one of the three brothers who started a blog called Iraq the Model. Rather than congenial Syria, Omar's destination was New York City, where he is now a student. In fact his brother Ali -- who left Iraq the Model couple of years ago to start his own blog -- was already in the US, also going to college:
Just two days ago I arrived in New York City and for the coming two years I will be studying international affairs at Columbia University [Isaac Asimov's old alma mater -- DaH], hopefully by the end of that I will get the master's degree I want!
So far I'm still in the process of settling in and figuring out what I need to do in order to actually start my studies. However posting on this blog will continue and a new post will be coming tomorrow if not tonight.
And by the way, in case some of Ali's old readers are wondering where he is and like to contact him, he's going to college at Stony Brooks [sic] in Long Island [Omar means Ali is at the State University of New York at Stony Brook].
Omar talked about coming to America a few weeks ago. He told us about a horrible traveling experience he had when he went to Jordan to obtain an American visa. According to Omar, Jordan is treating Iraqis really badly.
This is hardly surprising, as the last thing in the world Jordan wants or needs is a flood of Iraqi refugees... particularly given that Saddam Hussein transplanted a number of terrorist-supporting Palestinians into Iraq (displacing the Marsh Arabs on land that used to be, and is slowly being reclaimed by, the Great Salt Marsh) -- and I suspect most Jordanians believe there are already more than enough Palestinians in Jordan. But back to Omar's tale:
[R]ecently our Jordanian brothers came up with a truly outrageous practice of discrimination against Iraqis. All disembarking Iraqi passengers now are taken to special passport counters in a hall separated from the rest of airport facilities regardless of the origin of their flights or the airlines they came aboard. Attached to this hall is what Iraqis call “the prison”.
In case you haven’t heard, Iraqi refugees stopped going to Jordan long time ago now because they know they would be turned away...
The most painful scene was of families of four being torn apart; half of the family would be allowed to enter Jordan while the other half would be rejected and ordered to go back. Many preferred to go home together over being separated like this.
One scene like this nearly turned to a tragedy when an old lady suddenly collapsed on the floor from a case of heart attack from all the stress she suffered that day. If not for the good Iraqi doctor among us, she would have died waiting for the medics to arrive.
Miss Rubberband's family knew of the Jordanian situation; that's one of the reasons they decided to go to Syria. (Another reason, of course, is the willingness of Syria to enroll former Baathists in the only other Baathist regime in the world.)
As far as I know, Rubberband and Omar's family both lived in Baghdad. Both are Sunnis... but what a difference between them! Look at the lives they are leading: When I read Iraq the Model, I always feel optimistic even in the hardest time. But Rubberband makes me feel only bitterness and depression. It is hard to believe they both live in the same city (but then, so do Charles Krauthammer and Chuck Schumer).
But of course, the former represents the Sunnis who did not believe themselves superior to the Shia and Kurds and who were not the elect of Saddam; while the latter is of the class that lorded it over everyone else. It's not suprising that Rubberband would be so bitter against America and the Iraqi Shia; she had such a cushy life until that terrible day.
I wish both families good luck. I hope Omar and Ali will be able to come back soon, armed with the knowledge that will help lead their country into the Functioning Core. And I hope Rubberband sees what is happening in Syria and comes to her senses.
I'm pretty sure I'll bat .500 on those two well-wishes.
Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 13, 2007, at the time of 3:00 AM
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The following hissed in response by: David M
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/13/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
The above hissed in response by: David M at September 13, 2007 10:20 AM
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