Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, July 03, 2004

ME AND THE IP

The following is from a series of emails back and forth between myself and Major Basim at the Iraqi Police (IP) Headquarters.

"Khalo" means "Uncle" and "Khala" means "Aunt."

Khalo Basim,

Glad you got my email. Do you think we need to have a permission letter with us on the boat? I know we will have the police coming with us but I thought it might be wise to have a letter with us from the Iraqi Police stating we have permission to proceed down the river.

It looks like I may have found the boats I need (inshallah) ... they are more expensive than I was hoping but they are fast (140 horsepower... do you think the Iraqi Police boats will be atleast as fast as this???)

Khala Sophia
-----------------------------------------
KHALA

AFTER YOU FINISH YOUR PROJECT ,WE WILL HAVE A SPEED CHALLENGE.
I THINK YOU DO NOT NEED A LETTER WITH YOU ,BUT YOU NEED TO SEND ME THE NAMES ON YOUR BOATS TWO OR THREE DAYS BEFORE .

THANKS, MRJ BASIM

-----------------------------------------

Khalo ... concerning the speed challenge ... we're ready anytime you are!

Concerning the letter issue ... Hmmmmm, well I'll give you two examples of why we may still need a letter from the IP. Today we did a pre-survey of the lower Tigris (from the Jadriyah Bridge to the mouth of the Diyala) ... It was a really great trip but we had numerous small problems (at one point half-way down the river our boatman stopped the boat and demanded more money ... I definitely wont be using this man for the final trip).

The first real problem was at a small river police station near the Double Decker Bridge. We were passing it by (as we have passed by several without incident) when they stopped us and told us to come back.

"Where is your permission?" they asked, "Do you have a letter?"

We dropped your name and told them that we were conducting a pre-survey of the river to look at pollution problems. That was enough for them and they let us go.

The second problem was a little more serious. We passed by a Water Treatment plant in a location where I didn't realized there was such a plant and I asked our boatman to approach it when I saw some people standing there. I just wanted to get the name of the place and find out what area it served. But as we approached, several armed guards came out and aimed their guns at us. They were definitely upset by our approaching.

"Where is your permission?" they asked, "Do you have a letter?"

~sigh~

We ended up passing them all of our ID's and waiting there about 30 minutes staring back at the muzzles of their guns (not a pleasant experience) until they were satisfied we weren't terrorists. Then they gave us a bunch of apples and sent us on our way.

I have been stopped on nearly all of my presurvey's and usually the boatman can talk us out of it pretty quickly and I always tell the people that stop us what we are doing and let them know that I'm coming back on July 11th with a larger number of boats.

I know that for the final trip we will have an Iraqi Police boat ahead of us (By the way, if you want to challenge us to a speed challenge than you better have more than 140 horses in that engine of yours.) ... but are you REALLY sure we don't need a letter???

Anyway, sorry for the long email ... just had to pester you once more!

Khala Sophia

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