Showing posts from June, 2006

Anxious to Return Home

The Mansour Family; (L to R) Lena, Salwan and little Luna A significant portion of Iraq’s middle and upper class citizens are fleeing the turmoil and destruction of their home country to settle in neighboring Jordan; specifically its capital city of Amman. Jordan has been rather accepting of their new Iraqi residents and is one of the few countries allowing Iraqis to enter with minimal complications. However, only those Iraqi’s with substantial financial resources are able to make the move due to Amman’s pricey cost of living, which is comparable to that of California or the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. The average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in Amman ranges from $1000 to $1500 U.S. dollars and everyday consumer products are similarly priced to those in the U.S. The extreme surge of wealthy Iraqis flooding into Amman has extensively boosted Jordan’s economy and reduced the unemployment rate by expanding the job market. Construction, real estate and both private

Cheating Death: Escaping the Grip of the Badr Forces Death Squad

Many Iraqis are complaining that their new government is no more democratic or less tyrannical than Saddam Hussein’s regime ever was and the only difference in Iraq today is that there is also an active insurgency to contend with as well. Numerous Shiites and Sunnis alike are scared to death to leave their homes or allow their children to play in the streets for fear of being caught in a cross fire between insurgents and U.S. forces or victimized by the secretarian strife that is spreading rampantly across the country. A force behind much of this fear is the infamous Badr Forces, also known as Badr Brigade, which is originally an Iranian militia composed of Shiite Muslims that has found support from the new Iraqi government. Until recently, U.S. forces turned a blind eye to the militia because they were helping to combat the insurgency and resistance fighters who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, but lately, Badr forces has grown out of control and become a murderous steam roller tar

Translating in Iraq: A Deadly Career Option for the Locals.

Following the U.S Forces’ initial invasion of Baghdad and the toppling of the Saddam regime in early May 2003, many Iraqis with English language training eagerly offered their services as translators and interpreters for American troops. Many were devoted patriots who supported the American cause 150% and wanted desperately to see their country succeed under a democratic government, others were primarily motivated by financial reasons and volunteered because the Americans were paying more than any Iraqi employer could offer them at the time; but all were ultimately working towards the same goal – a free and peaceful Iraq. While working with the military, translators perform various relatively safe tasks such as assisting in interrogations of detainees at fortified locations or translating documents and other sheltered desk jobs, but they also conduct raids and participate in tactical missions, right alongside Soldiers and Marines on a daily basis. While performing these duties they ar

Four Wives - Three Too Many for Most Muslim Men

The truth behind the Islamic marital custom that embraces multiple wives and has forever enamored men of the western world. An aspect of the Islamic culture that has captivated young American and European men throughout history is the legality and common practice of taking more than one wife. The thought of dealing with two or more wives frightens many men into uncontrollable convulsions, but for others, the concept enthralls and incites their wonder and amazement. Of course, the first question that seems to roll off the tongue of every inquisitively youthful Soldier or Marine stationed in the Middle East when openly conversing with a Muslim is, “So, do you get to sleep with all four of them at the SAME time?” Oh, how it pains me to watch their na├»ve little bubbles burst and ooze with shattered fantasies when they are presented with the realities of this Islamic institution. I was under the impression that the average Muslim man exercised his right to four wives, or at least a couple

A Christian Childhood in Iraq

A principle mission of mine while in the Middle East is to take an in depth look into the lives of the local people; one that doesn’t focus on car bombs, military raids or the numerous other violent episodes they have to endure on a daily basis. I want to find out what they are doing when they aren’t digging through the rubble of a charred vehicle’s undercarriage searching for the remains of their relatives or friends. Although it is often a daunting task, most Mid-Easterners are conducting their daily lives as routinely as possible and finding ways to cope with their challenging environment. Many continue to attend educational institutes, from elementary aged school children to college students; internet cafes and computer gaming shops are popular with the young adult crowd and a significant portion of Baghdad’s working middle-class rise every morning and head off to their respective places of employment. Each group makes their way through an obstacle course of car bombs, IEDs, suici