Baghdad hits you head on like a big heavy truck barreling down a highway. Ka-poww, you’re out! Flat on your back wondering what that was. It doesn’t make a difference whether you live here or you from foreign; once you are away from here for more than a week you forget how things are. You forget because you really get away the mess and just live a “normal” couple of days.
These days the first things that makes you squint you eyes in pain and wonder why the hell you came back is the heat. How any people could decide to stay in such a dry hot place is a puzzle. You walk into a wall of hot dry air the moment you open the door of your air-conditioned home, actually strike that air-conditioning has become a luxury the country with the second largest oil reserves in the world cannot produce enough electricity for even half the demand.
The other thing that does a [Kill Bill] style kick on your ass is of course the seemingly never ending violence, and the 15th was bound to see carnage in Baghdad and other cities because it is the first day of the national conference. A controversial meeting of 1300 “representatives” who are supposed to oversee the transition from this interim government to the next one which hopefully will be elected and NOT interim.
Interim; now that’s a word for you. Everything in Iraqi since the fall of Baghdad has been “interim”; we managed to go thru two interim governments and I worry that if we fail to get things going towards elections, that we will get another interim monster. No one makes any decisions; no laws are set because it is all “interim”.
Anyway, back to the violence. I went back on the street to start filming for my video diaries on the 15th. Not by accident of course, I chose the date because I know that there will be trouble. Little tip: journalists are like vampires, they will suck your blood and have a nose that can smell it from a thousand kilometers. The moment an explosion is heard they swarm out like a pack of sharks looking for it. They point their cameras they harass people to tell them things and after they had their fill they go back to their air-conditioned hotels for a cool beer. It’s a job and someone has to do it. And don’t start talking to me about the “journalism of engagement” because that just might end up being fatal to you if you were such a journalist. You have to, you need to detach yourself otherwise you will die heartbroken and frustrated with this insane world and lose all faith in humanity, that is if you haven’t already like me.
So what was able to get for my video diaries, you ask? Policemen too frightened to be filmed because of the threats to anyone who collaborates with the current Iraqi government. Iraqi soldiers who were to bored, tired and hot and who complained endlessly about their salaries; they incidentally were too frightened to be filmed with the exception of one who really wanted to be on satellite TV. Blood and carnage at a bus stop. And finally a fire exchange near Haifa Street with loads of Iraq soldiers cursing like, well, soldiers because they have to walk into the area and kill the Iraqis on the other side who were shooting at them.