Wednesday, September 03, 2003


Thoughts of an Assyrian Christian minister returning to Iraq.
People, especially young people, say that for the first time in their lives they can travel overseas, surf the Internet, make international calls, and watch satellite TV. It is a wonderful time for the average Baghdadi.

What is really happening is the movement of Iraq from a "police state" to a "normal" country. During Saddam's time, life in many ways was stable, crime was low, prices were low.

But we are in a time of dramatic change. People have to learn to adjust to the "fringe benefits" of a free society. These changes include higher prices, the need to work, room for creativity, having choices, basic street crime, locking doors -- and a range of TV channels...

Those who naysay everything are very interesting. The people are very clear on who they are -- they all were connected to Saddam. For the first time in their lives, they are going to have to work; no more handouts. The easy life is over. But the numbers are staggering. People estimate nearly 20 percent or more of the population was in some form on Saddam's gravy train, some by choice, others by force. And nearly all of the population had been getting free food, tea and sugar.

As for the crime, they emptied the prisons so nearly 50,000 hard-nosed criminals are on the streets.

Another problem is just as it was before the war -- the outsiders. I cannot understand why the United States has not done two basic things: sealing the borders and setting up a TV station.

There is no border check so Iraq is becoming the magnet for every one that wants to get a chance to fight with Americans. This is a great puzzle to me.

What is happening, including the bombings, as far as people who I talked to are concerned, is the work of foreign nuts -- the same people who were the only ones to fight for Saddam at the later part of the war.

They are coming from all over the world like they did in Afghanistan to get a chance to fight Americans. I always remember how in Jordan everybody loved Saddam, whereas in Iraq everybody hated him.

The Iraqi people, in spite of all that is said, love the Americans. They are deeply grateful and are giving the United States the benefit of the doubt.

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