Prev | List | Random | Next
Continuing a series begun here.
Through the duration of the war in Iraq I've identified key indicators of important trends in the conflict on this web site. These indicators take the form of discrete events of variable duration, the trends are larger scale and longer term, and generally identifiable to the observer only as a series of events.
This story from May, 2008 is of an event:
BAGHDAD — I came back to Baghdad last week.But this report from November, 2007 signaled the start of the trend:
First, it is important to mention the main cause that made me leave everything behind and go to Syria. By the end of 2006 my neighborhood had become an unbearable place. No one could continue there. It was without any simple services, from bakery shops to the hospital and physicians. They all closed their doors and left.
But the real cause is something hidden inside me that affected me more. One day while driving my car to work I saw a corpse thrown alongside the road, and for next three days no one could remove or even touch it. If you moved it you would face the same fate.
So I was gazing at that corpse twice a day for the next three days. That made me think about the whole situation and I said: “It is possible there will be a day when I will be the next corpse laid on that road.”
After spending more than a year in Syria one day my father called me saying: “You can now return, and do not worry. Everything is fine now.”
During my travel from Syria to Baghdad I was completely relaxed. There were no worries, no fear of looters and terrorists with Al Qaeda, or Ansar al-Sunna (Protectors of the Sunni), Jaish al-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) who used to control everything on the expressway between Syria and Baghdad.
Then when we stopped to get some rest near a big restaurant called Bilaad ash-Sham I saw many Iraqi and Syrian buses filled with travelers, and many four-wheel-drive vehicles.
They told me that everything was going fine and that stories that I had heard about the security situation in some Baghdad districts were right.
At the end of the journey when we reached the main entrance of my neighborhood my mother told me “Just slow down and say ‘Asalaam alaikum,’ (Peace be with you). Do not tell them you were in Syria.” She was afraid they would think I was a wanted man who had run away.
At that moment everything I had heard before seemed not right and I became more anxious with each meter I came closer to the checkpoint. Then I turned my head to the left and I saw the biggest cement wall I have ever seen, which encircles my neighborhood.
There were two Iraqi soldiers standing at the checkpoint. One of them stopped me and told me to open the trunk and engine. The other smiled, saying: “It is the day of bombed cars.”
He inspected my car with an explosive detector device. The other was just looking at us and it seemed that he recognized my mother’s face because he said: “Hi, auntie.”
Now I felt really safe because those people were working properly, not like the security forces in my neighborhood before who were making a secure path during the night for militia members to pass through, targeting everything there.
This morning I heard the man who sells cooking gas knocking on the cylinders shouting “gaz, gaz, gaz ” which is something that had not happened for two years in my neighborhood.
This meant that all the things I heard about the improvements are true. Even the people are more friendly and I can say that there is now a kind of mutual trust between the people and the soldiers, not like before when there was no trust between each other.
"We are receiving tremendous numbers of displaced families at the borders of Syria and Jordan," Major General Mohsen Abdul Hassan, head of Iraq's department of border enforcement, told a news conference in Baghdad.
Queues of vehicles at the borders transporting the refugees are creating problems for frontier guards trying to prevent the smuggling of arms, Mohsen said.
"We have difficulties dealing with the large numbers. There are long lines of vehicles," Mohsen said, adding his guards were already hard-pressed trying to intercept arms smugglers and insurgents attempting to cross into Iraq using forged passports.
Refugees crossing through the border posts were being subjected to intense searches, he added.
Iraqi government officials say thousands of families are heading back into Iraq, particularly from Syria, as violence levels drop in their homeland and attitudes harden in host countries.
An Iraqi official at Al-Walid border post between Syria and Iraq interviewed by state television Al-Iraqiyah said between 700 and 1,000 Iraqis are returning daily.
The United Nations, meanwhile, said the number of returning refugees had become a "flow".
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met Iraq's Immigration and Refugees Minister Abdel Samad Rahman Sultan on Saturday and pledged UN support.
If you had never heard it don't feel bad. Iraq had virtually disappeared from American media before it had happened, and the bulk of the stories we're about to examine came from foreign sources.
In Geneva, the agency said Saturday it "does not believe that the time has come to promote, organise or encourage returns" given the volatile and unpredictable security situation in Iraq.
"Presently, there is no sign of any large-scale return to Iraq," said UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis.
But US military spokesman in Iraq, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, said the reality on the ground was different.
"The UN has clearly recognised that there are returning refugees and that the numbers are significant -- the numbers of individuals returning to their neighbourhoods in Baghdad has been noticeable," he told the news conference.
Part two is here.
Thanks for the first hand reporting. Valuable.Posted by Michael at June 3, 2008 01:29 PM
Isn't this the same UN that returned Vietnamese "boat people" fleeing Communism?Posted by TallDave at June 3, 2008 02:30 PM
Dude...I am so looking forward to Deuteronomy.
That's the numbers. Lowest casualties yet and still declining. Nice of AQ to let off a suicide car bomb the other day to try to stem the tide.Posted by kat-missouri at June 3, 2008 02:37 PM
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 06/03/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.Posted by David M at June 3, 2008 06:20 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(4) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)