This Girl's Voice

Thursday, May 08, 2003  

••The Return of Salam Pax••

The Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax is back. He had stopped posting on March 24 when the bombs started falling and the blog went black until today; with the help of his internet correspondence pal Diana Moon, he was able to send her a Word attachment confessing that he is "going thru massive internet withdrawal symptoms. So here are what should have been 15 entries to the blog, for whatever it is worth."

She in turn, has posted all of them here at his blog, Dear Raed. Take the time to read all of the entries, if you can, in reverse chronological order, to get the full impact of his experience as the war raged on and rained down in downtown Baghdad.

With a keen sense of irony, observation and liberal smatterings of dry wit, Salam gives us an insiders' account and the lowdown of the daily goings' on in "liberated" Baghdad. A small snippet:

....the looting goes on..... if you are an enterprising looter you go to the weapons factories around Baghdad. The huge empty cannon shells you find there are very desirable items; the metal is melted and used. And there is an endless supply of these shells. There are big battles being raged around the qa’qah (al qa3qa3) factory every night to control it.

There are until now around 30 dead people and a number of wounded. The coalition forces is enjoying the scene and keeping its distance (emphasis added).

They are like that in most of the cases, they sit looking a bit bored watching the looting.

Sometimes, if it is not too troublesome, they will go check on what is happening if you jump in front of their tanks shouting “Ali Baba, Ali Baba!!”. Cute, isn’t it? We have found common ground in the stories of 1001 nights. Everybody knows the story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, but not everybody speaks English.

So if you are lucky, the Americans will come to check what Ali Baba is doing, sometimes they care sometimes they don’t."

How courteous of the "coalition forces" not to interfere with the local colour. After all, they were trained to fight a war, not police a nation. If the natives are restless, it ain't gonna be on their beat.

But Salam ain't buyin' it:

At the moment only what could be described as the government’s prosperity is being looted and destroyed, actually public property and they are only destroying what is theirs but who is going to listen to that argument. There has been very little attacks up till now on private property. Government stores full of cars imported cars to be distributed as “presents” by Saddam have been opened and cars are being pushed out and are there for the taking. Sorry, no keys. You’ll have to solve that problem by yourselves.

What I am sure of is that this could have been stopped at a snap of an American finger. The ministry of interior affairs was kept off limits to the looters by the simple presence of a couple American army cars and soldiers. Doors were shut, no one went in. At the moment we wish there was an American tank at the corner of every street.

Oh, and Salam's not buying into the coalition forces' “Iraqi Media Network” either:

The “Iraqi Media Network” started broadcasting yesterday. Nothing to go crazy about, they are apparently recording one single hour and broadcasting it for 24 hours. They are using it for announcements by the coalition forces mainly, beside the coalition radio station “information radio”. They have brought Ahmad al-Rikabi from (Radio Free Iraq/Radio Free Europe). Yesterday also, the Iraqi media people (journalists, TV and radio people) were demonstrating in front of the Meridian Hotel asking for their jobs back; wait in line, we all are.

The irony, during the last couple of weeks in this big media festival called ‘Iraq War’ there is not a single Iraqi voice. (emphasis added).

Somebody give this man his own show: he's a natural --- born citizen --- and comedian, as further demonstrated with this entry:

A conversation overheard by G. while in the Meridian Hotel – the Iraqi media center :
Female journalist 1: oh honey how are you? I haven’t seen you for ages.
Female journalist 2: I think the last time was in Kabul.
Bla bla bla
Bla bla bla
Female journalist 1: have to run now, see you in Pyongyang then, eh?
Female journalist 2: absolutely.

Iraq is taken out of the headlines. The search for the next conflict is on. Maybe if it turns out to be Syria the news networks won’t have to pay too much in travel costs.

Without having any access to CNN, MSNBC or Fox News, Salam Pax has intuited from his bombed out pad in Baghdad, what is undeniably blatant to all of us here in North America.

Who needs status reports and updates from the new Baghdad anymore? The war's been won, right?

posted by voxpopgirl | 5/08/2003