Thursday, March 20, 2003

It is even too late for last minute things to buy, there are too few shops open. We went again for a drive thru Baghdad’s main streets. Too depressing. I have never seen Baghdad like this. Today the Ba’ath party people started taking their places in the trenches and main squares and intersections, fully armed and freshly shaven. They looked too clean and well groomed to defend anything. And the most shocking thing was the number of kids. They couldn’t be older than 20, sitting in trenches sipping Miranda fizzy drinks and eating chocolate (that was at the end of our street) other places you would see them sitting bored in the sun. more cars with guns and loads of Kalashnikovs everywhere.
The worst is seeing and feeling the city come to a halt. Nothing. No buying, no selling, no people running after buses. We drove home quickly. At least inside it did not feel so sad.
The ultimatum ends at 4 in the morning her in Baghdad, and the big question is will the attack be at the same night or not. Stories about the first gulf war are being told for the 100th time.
The Syrian border is now closed to Iraqis. They are being turned back. What is worse is that people wanting to go to Deyala which is in Iraq are being told to drive back to baghdad, there was a runor going around that baghdad will be "closed" no one goes in or out [check the map go from Baghdad in a N/E direction until you reach Baqubah, this is the center of Deyala governerate] people are being turned back at the borders of Baghdad city. There is a checkpoint and they will not let you pass it. there are rumors that many people have taken the path thru Deyala to go to the Iranian border. Maybe, maybe not.
If you remember I told you a while ago that you can get 14 satellite channels sanctioned by the state, retransmitted and decoded by receivers you have to buy from a state company. This service has been suspended. Internet will follow I am sure.

Things on Iraqi TV today:
- an interview with the minister of interior affairs. Turned the volume down, didn’t want to hear anything.

- demonstrations in Iarqi cities

-yesterday the last 500 prisoners from the Iraq-Iran war were being exchanged. I can’t believe they are still doing this, for fuck’s sake that war ended in 1989. every Iraqi family can tell you a hundred heart braking stories about things that happen when you have thought you brother/father/son is dead and he suddenly appears after 10 years.