Cowardly War

Resigned to their fate, some Iraqis do their nails, some check their property. And some just feel ill.

Cowardly War

Resigned to their fate, some Iraqis do their nails, some check their property. And some just feel ill.

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

I am sleeping in the sitting room in front of the television these days. Writing doesn't come easy. I am too uncertain and nervous now, and full of foreboding.

This week was supposed to have been an Iraqi cultural week in Beirut, with an art exhibit, a play and poetry reading. The play was cancelled after the first day because war seemed too imminent and the players wanted to get back to their families in Iraq. The poets too.

So only the art remains. I have my sculpture: dozens of figures of all heights painted and standing in line and made from recycled wood collected from a building site. They look as if they are demonstrating. They represent the Iraqi people and I am calling them "We, the people". My German friend Cristina is staying with me and she suggested that. She said that's what they said at the Berlin Wall when they brought it down.

Hopefully we will recycle ourselves and survive.

On the night of the opening, a few days ago, I willed a sandstorm of biblical proportions, for 40 days and 40 nights. Everyone laughed. I said that would be the only thing that could save us. We have had a huge storm raging in Beirut - and so have they.

I telephoned Baghdad this morning. The US has been kind to us this time and left us with communications and electricity. The telephone rang and rang and finally Ma answered.

"Did I wake you?"

"No," she said. "I was in the garden doing my exercises." We laughed and laughed.

"Did you sleep?"

"Oh yes," she said.

"What is everyone feeling?"

"We are all resigned to whatever our fate might be."

Lamia went and had a pedicure and manicure and did her hair. She said if she was going to die she wanted to be neat. Today they will go and check Amal's shop. It's bound to have damage. The ministry of planning across the river was hit.

It's 11 a.m. and I feel sick to my stomach. They say the US forces are 150 kilometres into Iraq. What 's the difference between Iraq invading and occupying Kuwait in 1990 and America invading and occupying Iraq in 2003? The most powerful nation in the world with the latest weapons of mass destruction is attacking a small country that has been pre-emptively stripped of its defences. Neither country had a UN resolution legalising its attack. Will the UN be able to place sanctions on the US and its "coalition" now - or does that sound like double standards?

In the name of peace and humanity, thousands have to be killed. In the name of liberation, in the name of democracy, there will be a military occupation. Would someone please tell me where the democracy lies in "Either you are with us or against us"?

The Pentagon says 600 sites were considered most likely to be hiding prohibited weapons, but only 75 were visited by the United Nations' weapons inspectors. Why didn't the Pentagon give the names of the sites to the inspectors? Could it be that they wanted to invade and occupy themselves? Will they now plant evidence where none was found, to make their aggression legal?

In the last 12 years of sanctions, the US and the UK bombed the no-fly zones almost daily. Iraq did not manage to down a single jet or do any injury to any country near or far. How, then, is it such a danger to the world?

The US is using precision cruise missiles that can pick out individuals in their cars from thousands of miles away. Iraqis are told to dig trenches and fight with their swords. Space-age warfare meets pre-World War I tactics. This is the most cowardly war of all - a politicians' war, full of lies.

Hope is in the people of the world, demonstrating, demonstrating and demonstrating against this war. It is they who bring us strength and hope for the future.

I am going to be sleeping in the sitting room in front of the television again tonight. If I can write anything else I will send it. But for now this is all I can feel.

Nuha al-Radi is an Iraqi artist and author of the best-selling Baghdad Diaries, which she began to write in Baghdad during the last Iraq war. For the last few years she has lived in Beirut.

Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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