Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dangled Carrots

My boss is often flip-flopping on whether he'll send me to Iraq. His recent offer of a week ago, to bring me down to the south so that I could get my first glimpse of the Marshes was reneged. He's trying a new tack with me ... instead of "Hell no, you can't go ... #@%!", he's saying, "Well if you want to go, go on your own. I'm not going to help you."

I resisted the paternalism in this situation once when I traveled to Iraqi for two weeks in April without his approval but it nearly wiped me out financially (he ended up paying for some of my expenses, but it was still difficult for me, on an NGO-pay scale, to afford the trip). I'm kept on a relatively short chain (for which I'm sure my family and friends back home are rather thankful) but it is frustrating to have all my work and thoughts focused on Iraq and not have the opportunity to actually be there.

I'm left to experience Iraq vicariously, through news reports and the stories of Iraqi Nationals who come to Jordan ... such as O, a friend of my housemate, who is an Iraqi translator working with American troops on the border. He came out recently for medical attention after being wounded during an attack on the patrol he was with. He'll return as soon as he's healed because good translators are in high demand with the Americans (few Iraqis are willing to work with them because of the danger involved) and he makes, for an Iraqi, good money at the work (over $1000 a month).

Here is a sampling of what life is like in Iraq this summer which I obtained from the Iraqi Press Monitor of the Institute for War & Peace reporting:

(Al-Mashriq) - More than six millions residents of Baghdad are suffering from shortages of electricity and fuel in these very hot days when the heat reaches 45 Celsius. The outage of electricity now is 20 hours a day, which means one hour on and six hours off. Officials at the Electricity Ministry always blame saboteurs who attack the electricity stations and power lines.

People have found no other alternative but to use their own home generators but they face the problem of the fuel shortage as they have to wait in long queues at the filling stations. Some of them are obliged to buy it from the roadside sellers who charge 25 times the normal price to avoid wasting hours waiting in the long queues.
(Al-Mashriq is published daily by Al-Mashriq Institution for Media and Cultural Investments.)


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