FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Spring Morning in Baghdad

Here in Baghdad, along the Tigris River, a gentle dawn and the sweetest of birdsongs were more precious than ever following a horrific night of intense bombardment. With the calm morning came relief after learning that the families of friends who work at the hotel are “o.k.” Abu Hassan, a pro at charades, pantomimed what happened in his home. He pointed to the windows in my room, held up five fingers, touched the floor and then affirmed, “Finished.” Five windows had shattered. Then he swung his arms around to imitate a ceiling fan, also “finished,” ? it had crashed to the floor, and next he crouched down with his hands on his head to indicate what the children had done. Riyadh then told us that his brother and father were “finished” in the 1991 Gulf War ? making a gesture of falling asleep, which meant that both had been killed during the war, and then he mimicked wiping tears from his eyes to explain that his mother had wept through the night, remembering past agony while quivering through the present one. Abu Hassan and Riyadh live in the impoverished Saddam City section of Baghdad.

At 8:00 p.m. last evening, I sat on a second floor balcony of our hotel watching tracer lights flash across the sky. The first round of bombing seemed distant and in the calm that followed, Neville suggested that perhaps that would be it for tonight. We joked about Neville’s prediction, quite exact, that bombing would begin precisely 45 minutes after he lay down to take a nap. “You’ll just have to stay awake now Neville,” said Ed. Our levity was broken by thundering explosions that repeatedly shook our hotel building.

I darted to my room, swiftly poured a cup of coffee, pocketed a handful of cotton swabs, grabbed my journal and a few books and then hurried down two flights of stairs to join other hotel residents and staff in the ground floor “tea room.”

I saw Marwan, age 12, and his nine year old sister, Dima, surveying the adult’s faces. Thankfully, all of us were managing to appear calm, and Marwan and Dima followed suit. A Christian woman made the sign of the cross while a Muslim man unrolled his prayer mat (he hotel owner, a devout Muslim, has invited his Christian neighbors to stay with us).

We settled in to endure a long night of bludgeoning attacks on Baghdad. The cotton swabs were handy for playing pick-up sticks and making a tic-tac-toe grid. Cathy Breen produced a few lumps of clay which we made into markers. Mohammed, our friendly cab driver, picked up a tiny pink lump and popped it in his mouth, expecting it to be a gumdrop. Did he do it on purpose? Anyway, it was a brilliant distraction that sent the children into gales of laughter.

Tomorrow we’ll plan a birthday party for Amal who turns 13. Last night, a cake appeared in the tearoom in celebration of Mother’s Day. Tiny Zainab and Maladh, daughters of the hotel night manager, have warmed up to me and let me help their parents rock them to sleep. And so it goes. As Operation Iraq Freedom storms on, we’ll liberate ourselves from any government’s efforts to sever natural bonds between us.

As I write, I can hear explosions in the distance. Clouds of smoke are billowing in every direction. We’ve heard that last night’s casualty list includes 207 wounded, four of whom died in hospitals. News reports say that more than 1,000 Cruise missiles were launched last night, and the US may be planning to release many more tonight. On a beautiful spring day, welcome to hell.

KATHY KELLY is in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness’s Iraq Peace Team. This article originally aappeared on electronicIraq.net, a joint project from Voices in the Wilderness and The Electronic Intifada.

 

Today’s Features

Alexander Cockburn
Ominous Signs

David Lindorff
Peacekeepers at Ground Zero

Diane Christian
Blood Sacrifice

KATHY KELLY
The Morning After Shock and Awe

John Stanton
US Bombs Iran

Wayne Madsen
How to Live with a Rogue Superpower

Anthony Gancarski
Iraq and the Death of the West

David Vest
Earth vs. Bush

Ahmad Faruqui
The Liberation of Iraq in Perspective

Robert Fisk
We Bomb, They Suffer

Website of the War
Iraq Body Count

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail