Report from Baghdad


Karim El-Gawhary is a reporter with the German newspaper tageszeitung. Here’s a transcript of a phone conversation he had with friends in Baghdad, a middle-class family (my own translation).

“The general mood has changed a lot since they showed the five US POWs on Iraqi television. I even let my daughters [eight and ten years old - JMC] see that so that they won’t be afraid of those frightened soldiers any longer. Only when they showed the images of the bloodied dead US soldiers did I change the channel because of the children. “Since those images were shown on TV, people are talking about nothing else in the city. For many people, the image of the invincible US army has been destroyed. I don’t listen to the arab services of BBC and Voice of America any longer. We know that they all lie. […] “Since the first days of the bombing my mood has changed by 180 degrees. Many of us now feel some sort of pride of the resistance of the Iraqi Army. Many of my acquaintances, even those who are opposed to the regime, feel that this is not about the defense of the regime but about their own self-defense and the defense of their country against occupation. The good morale of our poorly equipped regular army has also hardened the morale of civilians. I’m surprised that even the Shi’ites in the South, who oppose the regime, are putting up resistance. The Americans miscalculated that, they understand Arabs as little as Arabs understand Americans. “Now people dare to be in to the streets again. They’re not afarid of US air raids any longer. I went for a walk with my daughters. Together, we watched how Iraqi soldiers set fire to a small lake of oil, how a lot of smoke developed. For a while, the sun was gone. That way, we want to interfere with the air raids. Most supermarkets are open again, we even bought fresh fruit. At home, we had chicken with safran rice. That was our first real meal since the war started. “But air raids are still ongoing. The other night, a cat had a miscarriage in the garden. A small rocket hit the ground only 200 meters from our house. In our immediate neighbourhood, there is no military target, only a school. During air raids we now follow the same pattern. Over the loud impacts [of the bombs] my wife is singing childrens’ songs for our frightened children and then we turn up the music’s volume and dance. Yesterday, for the first time I danced flamenco.”