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Posted by Jeff from ( on Saturday, December 07, 2002 at 5:11PM :


M. Jareou

It is said that Abraham was born in the world's first civilized City. A city called UR, located in southern Iraq. Well, just a few miles away from those ancient and dusty ruins,is the city of Nassiriyah and it was here, in the early1980 's at the age of17 , that I hadjust finished high school. Back then, we had suffered almost two years of the first Gulf War (between Iraq & Iran), yet I had very little knowledge of America . Whatever I did know then, had come to me via Hollywood - the Cowboy movies, the Hollywood gangster's, Basketball, Karem Abdul Jaber, Mohammed Ali, his chant ' I am the Greatest' - images that burnt deeply onto my consciousness. Like so many youngsters in Iraq at the time,American instilled in us a "hope", another "reality" that allowed us to escape the harsh realities, of the hell we lived in. For a few hours each day, we were allowed toshare in the dreams of another people, of another life!! Another movie, far away from thedeath and the killing, far away from the hopelessness and horror's that seemed to plague us everyday in Iraq.The city of Nassiriyah was below sea level - a death valley literally - it was also below thegaze of the Iraqi Dictator and in who's eye's, was a forgotten city - seemingly in God's eyealso - as it was and is, a city full of pain and suffering. Physically the people have become"depleted" and it takes every bit of your strength, just to face another day. This desperatesituation became the fuel that fired my burning determination to leave; and along with the continued moral support from my family I was allowed to focus all of my energies on escape. I endured many hardships, many trials of faith and lesson's in patience, before I succeeded.My work done, I became one of a "very lucky" few, to escape the cycle's of violence at home,to escape the macabre game of Iraqi roulette, in those dusty and ancient parts of UR. I arrived in America, worked my way through college; graduated and moved to Chicago to start my own Electronics Security Company. I saw very quickly the necessity to change my name. The issue, how many American's would use an Iraqi with the name of Mohammedto ensure their electronic security needs? After nine years in America the company hadblossomed and I had became a very successful businessman, and for the fruits of my labourI was granted the American Citizenship. Immediately I invited my mother to America who I had'nt seen for more than 9 years, she stayed four months with me and my brothers. During this time, a favorite childhood singer from my home town in Iraq was also visiting Chicago, to play a concert. I had the pleasure to meet and talk with him about all the thingsI had missed in Iraq since leaving there. Well, just a decade in America and I had shown my Mother my new adopted home in Chicago, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and together there, we had listened to some of my favorite Iraqi blues. My American dream just seemed to get brighter and warmer by the day, my business was doing well and life wasgood. All this and the conclusion of a cease-fire during the first Gulf War, I was beginning to feel at long last, that "hope" was something, I could now recognize.A hard decade had passed and as the 90's began I was in a possitive state. One evening,I was driving towards downtown Chicago to meet some friends,for a meal and catch a Hollywood movie. Just before arriving there, the38 th. President of the United States, George Bush announces over the radio that the second Gulf War had just started and that the skies over my home land in Iraq, had been lit-up by all kinds of new weapons (and all kinds of old one's, "left-over's" from the cold war !! ) On hearing this I was struck numb, I slowed the car and felt all the hope that I had, melt inside me, like new snow on the water. I was in a terrible state of confusion and didn't know what to do next. I had some vague thought's to go back home and phone my parents and the rest of my family to see how far the destruction had got into my childhood homeland, but instinctively I knew that was not possible, the telephone and communications companies had always been the first targets of aerial bombing. Just then the phone rang in my car and my friends were waiting for me to go to the movies. I could not cancel and disappoint theme, so I had to go and watch the movie to the end, before I could excuse myself and hurry off back home, to catch up with all the real drama that was being played out in my homeland. A real ACTION movie where my mother, father and the rest of my family where playing out their parts, but without their will or consent, along with the millions of other Iraqi''s in their "role" as victim's, in the biggest ACTION and DRAMA of the century ! Yes, I AM HERE and I could sit and watch it all, in the comfort of my own apartment !! Here in my American dream it was being broadcast live and exclusive on CNN .... !!!!
Distress hit me badly, and for at least 40 days I sat glued to the TV. I could do nothing but watch the carnage and then I'd pass out on the couch, so I could wake up close to the TV for more of the same, the next day. It was a time that I felt so much guilt and confusion, watching my newly adopted country - that had given me the opportunity to live my Dream - destroying what little of Iraq, that Saddam had left his people !! There I was, my identity torn apart between the present me and the me of the past. My new home America ... THE LAND OF FREEDOM ... My old home Iraq ... THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION ... My American new friends ... My Iraqi old friends ... and My dear family. It was as if one part of me was in Heaven and the other part was in Hell. It was indeed, a crazy time.I watched as young Iraqi's (and I could so easily have been one of them) were slaughtered on the "highway of death" and how one American pilot descibed it as a "turkey-shoot" !!!
I watch as so many young Iraqi men were buried in their uniforms, with live bullets and hand grenades still strapped to their bodies, as they were bull-dozed like garbage into a land-fill,or mass graves.It was a time when I felt that I was different, and yet I still did not know where or which side I belonged !!
There was so much of the Second Gulf War on TV, I remember one night like many others, when I passed out on the couch and didn't wake up until late in the afternoon that day, I can remember parts of a pizza and some left over diet Coke in front of me, when President Bush caught my attention. He was calling on a injured Iraqi people to start an uprising against the Dictator and he promised them his support and help !! Of course, right after the cease-fire,THEY DID JUST THAT and I finally thought that maybe something good would come out of this, perhaps my people would be free from the grip of the Dictator. I had hope, that my new America would give them the American Dream and for a few days it was a courageous hope,fourteen of the eighteen Iraqi states were taken out of Saddam's control and for the first time in my life, I saw Iraqi's smiling and getting close to freedom !! But as soon as these people, "so called" enemy's of the state showed themselves, the heavy hand of the Dictator came down hard to defeat them, and again the Iraqi people were under fire. This time the fire of the Dictator was in the full view of President Bush and the eye's of the whole world, yet no one - including President Bush - kept their promise to help the Iraqi people's plight ... that they might live and enjoy even the most basic human rights !!
Another decade passed and along with it the20 th century. But in the first year of the next millenium, We have new president in the white house and his name is George Bush Too, the41 st. President of the United States !!
The same dilemma's Came back and Once again He is calling the Iraqi people to "rise up" and remove their Dictator, and again he promises to help and support them TOO.This time however, if they will not rise to the "challenge" he will go into Iraq with his own army and the army of some friends and "liberate them". Here then,is where we stand today, the stage is set for another War "Gulf War lll" and again we will be given the opportunity to watch this "real life" action drama. With a few minor "lead role" changes but the majority of participants, the victims and the Dictator's role is left intact. They are expected to play their parts convincingly, as in "Gulf War l & ll". The only noticable difference this time, regards the media ... where the exclusive right's to broadcastthis production, will now be going to the Arabic News Channel Aljazeera.

-- Jeff
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