Friday, November 07, 2003


Another byproduct of dethroning Saddam.
I could not believe my ears. “I apologise for the inconvenience,” said the Iraqi policeman as he finished searching our car. We were at the checkpoint in front of the Alhamra hotel in Baghdad.

Over the past week I had grown accustomed to ‘the rediscovered humanity’, as another policeman put it, of Iraq’s law enforcers. But this was too much.

With its policemen behaving like this, it is little wonder that Iraq is being perceived as a threat by its neighbours. Any visitor from most other Arab countries, where an encounter with the police is considered lucky if it is limited to verbal abuse, may be so shocked by this treatment as to return home bent on regime change...

As the eight days went by, I started to revise assumptions formed under the influence of western news coverage dedicated almost exclusively to the reporting of violence.

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