Sunday, 31 August 2008

Heaven from hell

I used to travel a lot to the Middle East and Africa, but I always felt a certain relief when I arrived home.

This little piece (from Anwar Ali of the New York Times) describes exactly the opposite feeling:

"It was only my second time out of Iraq traveling to a foreign country. It was night and from above Turkey we could see lights, like millions of colorful diamonds scattered around. When we were flying over Iraq, below we could see only a dust cloud and darkness.

Our flight to Turkey was six hours late and arrived at 3.30 a.m.
I was very worried because the word “late” in Iraq means you expect to be shot. Not by terrorists, but by the Iraqi army or the Americans, unless you have a good excuse or are very lucky.
When we arrived to Istanbul, my wariness vanished as I found an entirely different world there. The airport was so fancy, the Turkish people were so nice; the streets were all surrounded by red and blue and different colors of flowers.

And although it was late we could see cars in the streets and people walking nearby, and when entering the neighborhood where we were staying, I thought it was only sunset as I saw many, many people walking around and sitting in restaurants.

Returning to Iraq, our flight was also late, by four hours. I was so worried since our arrival to Baghdad was at 10.30 p.m. and that was not safe.

The streets in Baghdad after 9 p.m. are very dangerous and full of army, police and American checkpoints. Sometimes they can’t understand why you are out late and shoot, and sometimes they understand".

Saddam Hussein was a shit - we all know that, but did we really have to visit this horror on his country?

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