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[casi] Iraq 6 weeks on - The Julia Guest reports

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> The below report is from Julia Guest, an independent
> journalist/film maker who was in Iraq during the
> conflict reporting with peace activist Jo Wilding.
> Julia is now back in Iraq, assisting in setting up
> and
> training local media workshops and sending back
> regular observations. Please help to circulate this
> "unrestrained" news reporting which includes the new
> Indemedia Iraq/Independent paper Al- Muajaha
> Julia can be reached on
> cheers
> davey garland
> (pandora DU Project)
> Each decade there is a new scare in the world, we
> learn to live with adept and take appropriate
> action.
> On a security check I found my electrical
> screwdriver
> transformed from a simple tool to a potential weapon
> of mass destruction and couldn’t help thinking but
> that panic should be over.
> On arriving at Amman airport I suddenly found
> passengers split into two categories, those with
> Iraqi
> connections and those without. I was pushed into a
> small group gathered waiting the consideration. Two
> women, who were carrying Iraqi passports looked
> concerned, one of them told me “I tried to fly here
> from Frankfurt a week ago but Lufthansa wouldn’t
> take
> me because I have an Iraqi passport, now they may
> not
> allow me into Jordan, I don’t know what will
> happen.”
> I wanted to hear more but it was quickly decided
> they didn’t need to hold me for just having an old
> Iraqi visa and I left without knowing what happened
> to
> these women, who for simply having been Iraqi could
> mean a stateless existence until whoever takes
> control
> decides who is and isn’t an Iraqi.
> It has been six weeks since I left Iraq, down a
> deserted road with the real fear that a US
> helicopter
> might fire a rocket at us, the road was littered
> with
> similar casualties, we were met at the border by the
> worlds press who thought this had actually happened.
> Now heading back it was amazing to see more than a
> thousand Iraqi’s pouring back in. A pile of
> temporary
> Jordanian number plates was growing rapidly as these
> men, who it mostly seemed to be were in a clear
> hurry
> to get back.
> Inside the border it was easy to spot angle for the
> ‘new’ TV crews. One journalist’s book on the
> dashboard called simply ‘Republic of Fear’ they are
> here to report on the ‘Liberation’ of Iraq.
> Six weeks ago the petrol pumps here had worked. Now
> Iraqi fuel overflowed in the sand, with people
> scrabbling to keep canisters and cars filled. A
> woman
> came out of her house, the only house by the fuel
> station. Her face covered in a black veil, keeping
> her distance from this new reality she screamed at
> the
> two US soldiers who were signalling cars to keep the
> road clear while the fuel flowed around them.
> ‘She’s a crazy woman’ a Jordanian hastily explained
> to
> me. Right, she was crazy, not that she can’t
> survive
> in this harsh place, crazy that people were pouring
> fuel into the land around her house while monitored
> by
> the US army, maybe.
> It will take a while to adjust to American soldier
> in
> this place even for me. With their supply packs and
> desert gear they appear to say life in Iraq is
> unviable. They waved at me going through the check
> point, what can life be like for them now, with new
> shoot to kill orders for looters and car-jackers,
> what
> is this doing to each of them. If there can be any
> space for irony left in this situation the first man
> at the checkpoint said it all, with his name clearly
> marked on his chest, ‘German’.
> On the road its clear to see this years crops dying
> rapidly in the sun, where the sprinklers had once
> nurtured the young shoots now everything is brown.
> Our driver playing his music, a deep melodic ballad
> started waving a finger in the air and snapping them
> to the rhythm. ‘Kurdish’ he said with a broad grin,
> that’s the difference Saddam isn’t listening
> anymore.
> We drove a mile or two with the tune and then passed
> a
> small US convoy with a machine gunner guarding the
> rear, in perfect synch the finger gave a defiant
> flick
> to the music and the Americans.
> Moments later we passed a huge convoy with a range
> of
> machinery action man would be proud of. Twitchy
> machine gunners swing left and right overlooking
> empty
> fields, deserted in the mid day sun.
> The walls of the Republican guard compounds, clearly
> smashed through are being hastily rebuilt, breeze
> blocks replacing the elegant sandstone slabs. What
> they now conceal is not clear.
> Iraq is a different country now, and it seems,
> meeting
> some of my old Iraqi friends different rules. The
> war
> is still about the media message, yes Iraqi police
> back on the streets, but only where they can be
> filmed
> by CNN. For Iraqi’s fear of mugging, murder or rape
> is everywhere. the ‘Republic of Fear’ has found a
> new
> chapter.
> __________________________________________________
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