The Americans Are Coming
I was upstairs and could not understand the meaning of these shouts, in fact, I felt as if I was shot in my heart, “ No.” I do not want to hear that, but the shouts were getting louder and louder and the journalists were in a hurry to go down and see what was going on inside, they could not wait for the elevator, they took the stairs and that was what I did too.
I went down but in fact slowly because I needed time to grasp the idea that the Americans reached Baghdad and the war was finished, but what were all these conferences held by Sahaf every day in which he was confirming the Iraqi army capability in confronting the US assaults and even killing US soldiers, whom he used to call” Iluwij”.
Sahaf came early morning that day, he was so upset and even reproached Al-Jazeera correspondent for his coverage but he went upstairs on the roof of the hotel to make live statement though the shootings were so heavy, he was in a hurry, in a way, when we got close to him to listen to what he was saying, he was almost finished.
I saw one of my colleagues who live at the other side of the river, he was very sad when he was telling me that it was hard for him to come to his work today as the atmosphere outside was very gloomy and some people told him that they had seen US tanks in Baghdad.
But, I did not know that it would be so fast like that, though three foreign journalists killed in the morning by US tank fires, the pretext was the US soldier thought the foreign cameraman who had set up his camera on the terrace of his room was carrying an RPG, though since the first day of the war, the US forces as well as British knew that Palestine hotel was allocated for foreign journalists, but sure, they did not want these photographers to take pictures for them while they were sweeping Baghdad and killing any person they found in the streets.
In the same morning, US warplanes launched a feverish raid against the republican palace which was on the other side of the river, I could see that from the balcony, defences of the palace which were at the bank of the river answered the fire, the engagement lasted for like half an hour then fire sat up in the trenches of the palace’s defences and did not see or hear any bullet fried from their side.
Few foreign photographers tried to go near the opposite bank of the river to take pictures but they were chased by the people who were working at the press centre at that time, and in fact a hand battle broke out between one of them and a photographer who wanted to stay to take pictures and refused to get inside the hotel.
“ The Americans Are Coming.” Shouts continued till I got to the reception of the hotel, I stepped back when I saw, for the first time in my life, a US soldier in front of me, really he was like a monster, with his uniform, equipment, helmet and fearful arm.
I looked around, I saw some of the Iraqi men who were working with foreign journalists, they were crying, I could see tears in their eyes, they were Shiite and Sunni, but they were so sad for that scene,” Yes,” we were so scared during the war as we had to go out to cover the US bombardment to Baghdad and see the causalities in the hospitals while rockets and bullets were above our heads, we were nearly to be killed many times, but that was more bearable to us rather than to see our country invaded by the Americans.
I wanted to go out to go home to cry there but when I raised my eyes, I saw a giant US tank which was parked there to protect the foreign journalists from looters. It was not a tank, it was like a ship, very high and pompous, I look at it and said to myself, “ How many Iraqis have been killed by you since the beginning of the war till now?
At that moment, I envied all the Iraqis who died during the war and before the war, because they died before they see that shameful scene, their dear Baghdad, their dear Iraq was gone, they, who refused to leave Baghdad and their country just because they love it and they died in its love, they were lucky not to see that bloody evening when US soldiers were everywhere in Baghdad streets, except in Adhamiyia, people there were still fighting for their beloved country.
“ The Americans Are Coming.” The most awful and harsh sentence I had ever heard in my life because I had a strange feeling that the true sentence was supposed to be “ The Disaster Is Coming.”
Soon, looting campaign began in Baghdad blessed by the Americans, ministries and governmental buildings were burned and people were talking about Kuwaitis who came by themselves to do that in revenge of 1991 war.
But where was the Iraqi government? I kept asking that question, there was not a single statement to clarify to us that ambiguous situation.
Soon, power went off in Baghdad, all Baghdadis were in astonishment because during the war they had power, but why when the Americans came power cut off?
Summer was creeping weather was getting hot but no power at all, I went with few journalists to see Uday palace in Adhamiyia occupied by the US forces, we were four, so, to spare time, I told the journalists, “ you can go inside I will wait outside for you.”
There was a US soldier standing outside, he thought I was foreign too, so he began to speak with me in English, one of the question I had asked him, “ why do not the US forces repair power for Iraqis, they would be very happy.”
He said, “ Look, we won’t fix power, water and other basic things for the Iraqis, in away they would have luxurious and comfortable life and begin to think of attacking us, we want to keep them busy with these things!!!!!!”
A month later, I had to do a story in Dura district in Baghdad, I came close to a big house with farm there, I asked a man who seemed to be the guard about the owner of the house, he said “ This is the house of a Palestinian leader, his name is Abu Al-Abbass, it was granted to him by Saddam Hussein, but just at the last day of the war when the Americans entered Baghdad, a group of Israeli soldiers raided the house and took Abu Al-Abbass with them. I did not see him since that time, but Iam still guarding the house”
Later on, I heard that Abu Al-Abbass had died in the prison, of course out of torture, but what were the Israeli doing here if the Americans came to liberate the Iraqis?!!!!!