Thursday, 13 March 2014

The embassador

Many years ago I entered into a rather unpleasant online dispute with an Iraqi doctor who had been plucked from a rather mediocre job in the British health service and appointed head of the Medical City teaching hospitals in Baghdad, I was angered by the lies and exaggerations, and following a post here exchanged several emails with the since obscure surgeon

I remembered those feelings last week

Someone had started a new Facebook group, and I had been included in the invitees

These were some of my fellow university students, a list of a hundred people, some instantly recognisable, others rather less so, photos and families, memories and anecdotes, I found myself smiling and clicking on the little red numbered messages that kept popping up


People started to write resumes of their lives over the past twenty-five years since we graduated, medical specialities, children in universities, travels around the globe in search of safety and career, struggles with new languages and cultures, so much success all around the world, and a lots of congratulations and reflected glory

And then he placed his resume....

The fifth top graduate...travelling to the UK ....consultant position....head of department... followed by a change in career....and current position as ambassador of Iraq in....all interspersed with the political jargon- the -previous criminal government- the recent dramatic changes-his excellency the so and so-

The theme is religious rather than nationalistic but the general feel was all so familiar it instantly took me back thirty years

I instantly google the name (and initially find nothing from his medical background because like so many of us he has changed his surname to emphasise his religious subgroupe) I eventually find the hospital but very little else. 

But I do find the youtube that apparently went viral of his bodyguards manhandling a young cyclist who came too close to his diplomatic car.

Unlike previously I did not enter into debates, I didn't send him this

I simply left the group and unfriended the people who felt obliged to congratulate him

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The F word

While the world is watching Kiev intently, and occasionally remembering Syria

Somewhere else is close to exploding
The most feared city in the world
The birthplace of my children's grandfather

Haweeja is the new Halabcha

The mass deaths there changed the balance, the protracted and mainly peaceful sit in became more than just that, and in all likelihood the calls for "revenge" in a land where there has never been any justice made the "fighters" more welcome

The websites are active again (between episodes of hacked shut down), and in addition to the words we now have images
Filled mortuaries, crowded hospitals, and mutilated bodies in the streets

The videos are multiplying, with or without the insignia or the haunting music, planes are downed in the dark, tanks emptied and burning, military positions vacated, and rockets blaze over pedestrians in the streets, all with the common commentary AllahuAkbar...and Baghdad we are on our way

Rumours are rife, "anyone trained by the Americans is to report to F.....""Defections are becoming more common despite the death sentence", tapped phone call of farewells, of resignation to fate mixed with fear of execution

The prime minister calls the events "the battle between the grandsons of Hussain and the grandsons of Muawyia", and now his government has lost control over a strip of land extending from the western border to Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of the capital, passing via Ramadi, and it is spreading; a few shots in Mosul, a few skirmishes in Yousifyia "the city that according to the song penned for the elder Hakim was a source of fear to other Iraqis"

To the outside world this is not happening, not a word of it is spoken, because in the centre of all the events, is one city, a city no-one dares even mention, not even in a whisper, F........