Reflection from Iraq: 'which war?

 (Sheila is a member of the Christian peacemaker team working in Iraq) Iraqis used to call the 1991 Gulf War "har'b Bush," or "Bush's war." Now they call it "har'b Bush al awel" "The first Bush's war." The Iran-Iraq war is "har'b Iran." The invasion of 2003 is "the second Bush's war." Imagine living in a country with so many recent upheavals that when people say "the war," I have to ask "which one?" It is easy to get lost in the struggles of the present violence and occupation, and forget that this country has suffered from war for more than twenty years. 15-year-old *Amal does not forget. In 1991, a huge explosion during the 40 days of US-led bombing nearly killed her, and left her with severe burns covering her torso, arms, thighs, and the lower half of her face. Like so many young Iraqis who grew up during the years of sanctions and scarcity, she is small for her age. But she has an elfin beauty and an energy that is amazing to behold. Last Sunday, I went with her and her mother to several hospitals in Baghdad. Amal is trying to get treatment outside Iraq to repair her deep facial scars, and she needs doctors to examine her and determine that such treatment is only available abroad. As the doctors sent us from office to office and it seemed impossible that we could get all the paperwork done, she took over with the determination of a tigress. "Please, I need a signature," she implored one doctor whom she chased down the hall. "Any signature!" At last, she got it. I do not know if Amal will be accepted for treatment, or if she will get funding for travel. But I do know that I have another sister now. "This is your house!" her family says. "Our troubles are not your fault, we know that American people are different from their government. Whenever you have no work, come stay with us! I spent a night in their home last week, and I noticed that the windows of Amal's room were all broken and covered with cardboard. "That's from the first Bush's war," said her sister Layla. *Names have been changed Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical violence-reduction program with roots in the historic peace churches. Teams of trained peace workers live in areas of lethal conflict around the world. CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002.

Share this story