Return to Mesopotamia

What has become of my Iraq?

Text Box: In 1970 I left a flourishing city.  In 2003 I returned to a devastated country.
Three wars and twelve years of sanctions left Iraq in a horrible state, and eight months after “liberation” nothing I saw promised a brighter future.
I lived in Iraq for two years, between 1968 and 1970, during which my mother taught in Baghdad University.  On a hot summer day, in July of 1970 we left “for good” returning to our native Egypt.  I never thought I would go back.  Never thought I would want to.
As the devastating effects of the sanctions became news, I started to wonder what was becoming of Baghdad, which I remembered as beautiful and prospering city, and what has become of the schools I attended decades ago.
In the winter of 2003 thousands of Montrealers took to the streets and voiced a clear “no” to war on Iraq, in the spring the war, and the occupation, became a reality, in the summer I decided to travel there, in the fall I put my decision into action and on December 9th, 2003 the charter plane I boarded in Amman Jordan, landed in Baghdad airport.
For three weeks I traveled across Iraq and saw for myself what I was hearing about for years.
Let me show you what I found ...

Al-Ferdous square in September 1968, then in December 2003.  An episode of the history of the square is missing here.  For many years a statue of a saluting Saddam Hussein stood where  the “Unknown Soldier symbolic arch was, in the first photo and where the new “freedom” sculpture now stands.

The first view I got of Baghdad after over 33 years of absence, and  after a stressful landing.  To land in Baghdad airplanes avoid being shot down and escape heat-locking missiles by descending in a spiral.  The first roller coaster ride I had since I was twenty-five.

By Ehab Lotayef

Text Box: Background: 
The sky over Al-Saadoun street; photographed through a cab’s cracked windshield.