Thursday, October 16, 2003


But you will be pleased to read his story. It is another one worth clicking through to see the whole thing.
But more than just another teahouse intellectual, Pasha — he prefers his grandfather's title for his last name — is part of a new generation of young Baghdadis willing to place their faith in the U.S. and their future in a reconstructed nation.

"I keep telling journalists how grateful we are that the Coalition removed Saddam, but the media — especially European media — only wants anti-American views," says Pasha, whose grandfather, Nuri al-Said, was prime minister of Iraq until he was deposed and murdered in 1958.

Like many of Baghdad's English-speaking artists, Pasha is often confused by the animosity shown by much of the world toward Iraqi's liberation. "Don't they understand what freedom means to us? Don't they see many of us cooperating with the Americans to rebuild our country?"

That last question has particular significance for Pasha. Despite his air of bohemianism — and his religious views — the young man is engaged in one of present-day Iraq's most crucial tasks: translating for the U.S. military. Working at night, Pasha accompanies American soldiers on an array of missions — from standard patrols to raids on fedayeen hideouts. Over the months he has developed a close relationship with GIs, whom he tends to call "my guys." (The soldiers, in turn, have chided Pasha for being "too perfect" and jokingly call him their "Wahhabi spy.")

Part of this bond is Pasha's belief that America is bringing democracy to Iraq; part is the nature of the GIs themselves.

"At first I was amazed when soldiers called me 'sir,'" he recalls. "Having lived for years in a police state, I couldn't imagine someone in uniform treating me with respect."

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