Interview with an Iraqi Woman and Internal Refugee - 10.29.2005

This is an interview conducted Friday with Khulood, a woman who had been displaced from her home. She, her husband and young child are currently living in Baghdad at the Women’s Will Building. She provided a great deal of insight into the situation facing internally displaced people in Iraq as well as her thoughts about the conditions in Baghdad and the situation with the Resistance.
Khulood with child
Omar: Why did you leave your house?

K: We left our home because of the threat and killing and people used to call our area the Death Triangle, Mahmudiya, Thuluayah, and Yusifiyah.

Omar: Did the government provide food supplies, material aid or at least security?

K: No, there wasnít any kind of support from the government, even the police checkpoints, they were not distributed correctly and it is an open area. Anyone can come and kill and no one will look after him.

Omar: Was the Resistance helping that area, by providing material aid or security?

K: Yes, we were having such things, but after the American forces and the Multinational Forces entered the area, everything was mixed. We canít identify who are the terrorists and who’s the Resistance.

Omar: How is the life in Baghdad now?

K: Well the situation in Baghdad is chaos. All the people are afraid from the blasts. Even if a person gets back to his home, he will still be scared because heíll feel that the next blast will be in front of his house.

Omar: How is the life in Baghdad for you as an individual?

K: Life has become so difficult, the prices are too high and there are no jobs. We are facing so many difficulties. From the financial side life became so difficult for us, because there is no work, no jobs, even if we found jobs, we canít get there safely, because most of the roads are dangerous and we canít go peacefully to workplaces and come back safe.

Omar: How do you describe the life in Baghdad before the Occupation?

K: I consider it Heaven on Earth.

Omar: How did you expect the War would be?

K: Well I expected that this war would be for Iraqís good.

Omar: Did you think that this would be like the first Gulf War, without Occupation?

K: No, no, no. I didnít expect that one day I would wake up from my bed and see the Americans filling the streets.

Omar: How was the Iraq situation after the first Gulf War?

K: Well the situation was much better, at least we used to have security, the prices were kind of low, and everything was available. Education was available, but now we canít let our children or our brothers to go to the school or the college, because of the blasts and the dangers hidden in the street, or the kidnapping. Or anything else similar.

Omar: So do you think that the education fell down because of the blasts, because of the security, because of the financial condition for each individual?

K: Yes because of the Occupation, the Occupation made a lot of effects on the education and the financial state of all the people.

Omar: What is your message for the American People?

K: I would send a call, a rescue call. To the American people and especially to the mothers to not let their sons to come to Iraq. Because we are completely destroyed, and we are wounded. We want to feel rest, and we are requesting to all the American forces to pull out from Iraq, and also all the occupying forces, in order to live in peace, to get security. To let our children have a better future.

Omar: Is there anything else you would like to say?

K: We want to have a rest because we are so tired and so sick.

Omar: Can you be more specific about how the life was in Mahmudiyah before the war?

K: Life was so natural in Latifiyah, we used to have a lot of relationships with the people around us, because you know the tribes they are the people who rule that area. There was no fear, no terrorism, but we started to be afraid after the events take place. We started to be afraid of everything and we lost our trust in the things that we used to trust. We even started to be afraid from the usual people, that they would send a report about us, that we are terrorists, so they can detain us. So our life there became so bloody, at least there were ten people killed daily. Even when they were killed there was no one who came to carry the dead bodies. My own opinion is that the terrorism came along with the Occupation. In the past we didnít have anything like racism or a civil war. We didnít think about all those things at that time. The occupation is the one who brought the terrorism and also it is the one who brought the prejudice. So why are they talking about the terrorism, when they are the terrorists themselves?

Omar: According to what youíre saying there was no race war between people before the occupation, so can you describe how the Sunna and Shiía lived before the war?

K: Well this is a very funny thing. I can describe it for you right now; I will give you a small example. I am Sunni and my husband is Shiite. We built a family and I didnít think one day that Iím Sunni and he is Shiite. And also we used to have a Christian neighbor, we were very good friends. We didnít have any problems with any other people who had a different religion or a different race. Everyone was living happily together with the different types of people; we were just living like one family, with nothing dividing us. And the only one who benefited from this change was the Occupation.

Omar: So the problems between Sunni and Shiite happened after the Occupation?

K: Yes.

Omar: Do you think that the new Iraqi Constitution will make any difference in life?

K: Well for me, Iíll give you my personal opinion that, I donít believe in the Constitution and I didnít vote for the Constitution either. I donít believe in any constitution written under the Occupation, because this is illegal and you can add to that, there are some Governorates that didnít agree on the constitution. And also they gave ten days to find the results for the vote and I think this is not enough, because it doesnít make any difference if they gave 2 days or 100 days, the results is clear, they will agree on the Constitution. And thatís why it wonít make any change in the Iraqiís life.

Omar: So do you think there are people who didnít vote because they didnít read the Constitution? Like there are some Governorate who didnít agree on the Constitution or because they didnít think this Constitution is Iraqi 100%?

K: Yes. I agree with you. Because there are some people who didnít read the Constitution, and at the same time, we believe that the Constitution was not written by Iraqi hands and I think that they needed more time to set up conferences and make long conversations about the Constitution, because a Constitution is not an easy thing. And even they started distributing the Constitution only a very short time before the voting process. And they started giving an explanation about the Constitution and giving books about the constitution only a very short time before the voting process.

Omar: So they didnít give the Iraqi people enough time to read the constitution and to understand the constitution?

K: Yes. Yes. Even the one who put the Constitution, he might be an Iraqi, have Iraqi citizenship, but he didnít live in Iraq. And he didnít go through the bad conditions that Iraq has gone through because the Iraqis suffered a lot and he just go on the television then he talks about what heís going to do and what heís willing to do, and he doesnít know anything about the Iraqi people. So the one who is supposed to create the Constitution, heís supposed to someone who lived in Iraq, and gone through all the Iraqiís suffering, not someone who came from outside Iraq.

Omar: Did you feel any kind of change after they agreed on the constitution?

K: You mean like anything serving the community? Absolutely not. And for example you have me, Iím a woman with my husband, and I have a very young child and we are still living here, nothing has changed, and the war is still happening in my area. And we are suffering a lot right now, and Iím wondering why the constitution didnít serve me with anything.

Omar: So it didnít change anything in your life, like material or security or anything?

K: Absolutely not. It didnít change anything. It did not terminate the unemployment. And for example, I graduated from the teachersí institution and I donít have a job. Iíve been sitting for a year without a job and Iím still like this right now. So, where is my right as an individual in this Constitution? So you know that the Iraq community is having a lot of problems in their family because the father of any family needs to have a job to feed his kids and help them live. And even there are a lot of children who left the school, to find work, to live. So thatís why the suffering continues.

Omar: How is your experience with Womenís Will?

K: Well, after god, they are the ones who saved me. When my family and I left, we didnít know where we were going or where we were headed to, and my child was only nine days old. And I had a caesarean section. And after I went to Baghdad as a refugee and my husband was jobless, and if we wanted to rent a house we needed a lot of money, and we donít have that money. So we found the Womenís Will Body with the manager Hanna Ibrahim and Fatima Abood and Wejdan Kareem. They took us in and considered us a family and they provided us accommodation and were like a shelter for us. The Womenís Will Body has been like a second family to me; they helped us a lot through the things we have suffered in.

Omar: So you have heard about Zarqawi and what he has done, do you believe in his existence and what do you think about him?

K: Well from my own opinion I think that there is no Zarqawi or he is an invisible character. And even if he was real, its here to take revenge on the United States, but where? On Iraqís land.

Omar: So do you think all the beheading operations and all the bombing operations are pointed toward the US Military or is there a part of it toward the Iraqi people?

K: No I think its pointed at the US military, because since I was born, I havenít heard about such stories or anything like beheading or killing this much. Also I didnít expect that one day the Iraq condition would be so bad as today, what we are living in. So I think all those operations are pointed at the US Military.

Omar: Do you think that the Zarqawi groups and Zarqawi himself were invented by someone to create instability in Iraq?

K: Well the United States of America, they are the ones behind all of that, because they are the only one who benefits from the unstable situation in Iraq.

Omar: Who do you think benefits from the Occupation?

K: Iraq is a rich country. Anyone who occupies this country will be rich. He will have a lot of benefits from occupying this country, financially because there is a lot of oil in this country. And speaking about oil, we used to have a lot of problems with the gas and the oil. When we came here my child was nine days old and we didnít have anything to keep her warm, so we used to hold her with a lot of blankets to keep her warm. So we were holding her and we were crying, because we couldnít provide her oil to keep her warm. There are a lot of things that arenít available like gas and oil.

Omar: So, speaking about oil and gas, do you think there is an invisible hand stealing those resources?

K: Yes, because we are an oil country, why is the gas not available? They want to make the situation unstable, to use it as a benefit for them. Even if we take the long gas line we will be shocked by a car bomb attacking us, or maybe killed by an exchange of gunfire. Or the driver will stay for one day without work.

Omar: Why do you think all the problems about providing gas and oil are happening? As far as we know Iraq is one of the countries that has a lot of oil in their lands.

K: Iraq is a very, very rich country, but it doesnít get any of its rights and the Occupation forces, they are the one who decided what happened in here, and what happened tomorrow. The Iraq population started thinking that tomorrow will be worse, it will be chaos.

Omar: What will make the Occupation forces leave Iraq?

K: If Iraqis support each other and the Iraqi people become one group, and keep away anyone trying to mess with this country. And to think about our children and about their future, and to unify and if we are spread we will be weak, and that for sure will make the Occupation forces get out of Iraq. And make the Arab countries try to help Iraq instead of taking a negative stance towards Iraq.

Omar: A negative stance like what?

K: Like sending terrorists to Iraq. The Occupation helps those people to get into Iraq easily because when they occupied Iraq they opened those borders to help people get into Iraq.

Omar: What about the Civil War? Who is responsible and who benefits?

K: The Occupation forces. We didnít have any of those things ever. It didnít exist before in Saddamís time it came with the Occupation. So thatís why theyíre saying when one of the Sunni is killed they say one of the Shiites killed him. In my opinion, the Occupying forces are responsible for all these things; the invisible hands belong to the Occupation forces.

Omar: What do you think would make the Resistance stop using guns and come to the negotiation table?

K: Well very simple. Getting the Occupation forces out. When the Occupation will end, the peace will take place. We donít need a Resistance after that, we will stay in peace.

Omar: So when the Occupation will go and there is a bad government, do you think there will be another Resistance?

K: Well my own opinion is that I donít think this government will serve us. But if they leave and there are democratic elections as they say, we will vote for a government that will really serve Iraq. If that government will serve the population, there wonít be Resistance anymore.

Omar: Thatís in the case if the election is from the population?

K: Yes if it is real.

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