Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 





Broken Lives and Broken Hearts
Thursday, 07 June 2007 10:28

by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD, Jun 6 (IPS) - With the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq in its fifth year, one leading study estimates that more than 655,000 Iraqis have been killed – with no end to the violence yet in sight. Left behind are loved ones who continue to mourn their loss, as well as what might have been.

Iraq was once a country known in the Middle East for its epic love stories, such as in the poetic work "Arabian Nights". Deeply moving love poetry has abounded from Iraqi poets, and Iraqis have been known, when in love, to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, for their beloved.

According to a mortality survey published in the British medical journal The Lancet last October, as many as 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. The study was carried out last July, so the number is likely to be far higher today, after one of the bloodiest years of the occupation.

The occupation has impacted Iraqis' personal relationships the same way it has negatively affected all other aspects of life here.

"We were engaged to be married after the end of the war," Hussam Abdulla, a 28-year-old engineer from Baghdad, told IPS. "We thought the war would not last more than a month and so we planned our marriage to be in May 2003, but things went wrong as I was detained for two years and my fiancée's family had to flee for Egypt because her father was a senior army officer whose life was threatened first by occupation forces and later by death squads."

Like countless other Iraqis, Abdulla's engagement never culminated in the marriage he'd hoped for.

Army officers, doctors, journalists, artists and others have been targeted by death squads since nearly the very beginning of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The lucky ones who survived fled the country early while others faced death and detention later on.

"I thought the man I loved had simply dumped me," a 25-year-old woman who asked to be called Arwa told IPS. "He told me he would send for me as soon as he found a job in Jordan, but he disappeared and his family told me they did not know his whereabouts."

She sadly told IPS that she and her family later found out her boyfriend, whom she had hoped to marry one day, had been detained by U.S. forces near the Jordanian border.

When she asked where he was being held, "The U.S. authorities said his name did not exist in their files," Arwa said. "I will wait for him to appear even if it takes me a lifetime."

Tens of thousands of reportedly detained Iraqis are not listed in U.S. military records, leaving their families wondering whether they are dead or alive.

"I told my fiancée to find herself another husband," 32-year-old Khalik Obeidy, who was visiting Baghdad from Fallujah, told IPS. "I lost my job as an army officer and my family's house was blasted during the U.S. siege of Fallujah in April 2003, so our marriage seems next to impossible."

"Getting married under such circumstances means more agony, and bringing up children is more than difficult," Obeidy added. "My crazy fiancée still has hope for improvement and she says she will wait."

Similar stories of broken-off engagements, postponed marriages and bitter separations are everywhere in Baghdad.

"In 2006, I sent my wife and two daughters to Jordan for work and I was supposed to follow them after selling the car and the furniture," 40-year-old teacher Tariq Khalaf from Baghdad told IPS. "Things went wrong when my father died and I had to stay here to look after the rest of the family, and now I'm confused whether to bring them back to the Iraqi hell or just stay separated."

Jassim Alwan recently made the dangerous trip from Samarra, 90 kms north of the capital city, to Baghdad.

"We have the 23-year-old Abdullah with his scruffy beard who keeps wandering the streets of Samarra City," Alwan told IPS. "Abdullah is more famous than the mayor of the city. He was a wonderful guy before his bride was shot by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. The poor guy couldn't stand the shock."

"The country of the 'Arabian Nights' and the wonderful poetry is no longer good for love," Maki al-Nazzal, a political analyst and poet, told IPS. "All Iraqi poetry under occupation is now about death and separation. Love stories are full of agonies and despair marking the darkest period of violence and hatred."

To date, there are no accurate figures available for how many men and women have lost wives and husbands in Iraq.

"Baghdad became the city of smoke, blood, and death, instead of being the shrine of love and beauty," added al-Nazzal.

(*Ali, AFP correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, a U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region.)
More from this author:
U.S. Troops Raid Hospital Again (7027 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily FALLUJAH, Dec. 14 (IPS) - Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid at...
It's Either Occupation or Education (7026 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily BAGHDAD, Dec 18 (IPS) - Two in three children in Iraq have simply stopped going to school, according to a...
Iraqi Hopes Dim Through Worst Year of Occupation (6930 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (IPS) - Despite promises from Iraqi and U.S. leaders that 2006 would bring improvement,...
Children Pick Their Christmas Toys - Iraq (7889 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily FALLUJAH, Dec 25 (IPS) - Ahmed Ghazi has little reason to stock Christmas toys at his shop in Fallujah. He...
When Iraqis Gave Up on Government (9335 Hits)
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily BAGHDAD, Dec 27 (IPS) - The Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki, like earlier...
Related Articles:
The Republic’s Barn is full of Broken Pottery. (6715 Hits)
by Art James The geese heard the barbarians scaling the gate-wall while the guard-dogs slept. …it offended his conscience to make a little...
Bush’s Foreign Aid Surge: A New Era of Responsibility to Fight HIV/AIDS in Africa or Bush’s Broken Promise? (6096 Hits)
by Aaron Sussman While most discussion of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy centers around the much maligned invasion of Iraq, the...
Glasgow's Burning — Run For Your Lives (9897 Hits)
by Larry C. Johnson Preliminary, unconfirmed reports indicate a nuclear blast has occurred at Glasgow's international airport. No one has...
From the Lives of the Marionettes: Gonzo Gone But the Grotesquerie Goes On (4867 Hits)
by Chris Floyd SONYA: Don't, Boris; sex without love is a meaningless experience. BORIS: Yes, but as meaningless experiences go, it's one of...
Lakota Oyate: Recovering Lakota territory after trail of broken treaties (5641 Hits)
by Brenda Norrell The American West No More, Lakota Nation Releases National Map - Lakota Natural Land-Base Divides 5 U.S. State Boundaries ...

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger