As the bombs were falling on Baghdad a year ago, retired engineer Ghazwan al-Mukhtar told Democracy Now! “UK/USA means to me United to Kill Us All.” On the first anniversary of “Shock and Awe”, Ghazwan joins us from Baghdad for a look back at a year under US occupation. [includes transcript]
- Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a retired Iraqi engineer speaking from Baghdad.
AMY GOODMAN: We now go to a man familiar to Democracy Now! listeners. He was on the show a year ago from Baghdad when he said U.K.-U.S.A., means 'united to kill us all'. He is a retired engineer who lives with his family in Baghdad. Can you describe the situation in Iraq, one year after the invasion began?
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: Well, I mean, the invasion is nothing more than an extension of this sanctions–exempt it’s worse. The medical system has collapsed; so has the water supply and the sewage system even deteriorated more. The security situation is atrocious. You cannot drive outside your house safely at night. The bombing is happening. Almost every day we hear a bomb. In fact, we hear more bombs than it is reported on the news media. Now that the telephone system — we are without a telephone system for now a year. I still don’t have a telephone line. The land lines have been damaged totally. The health system just collapsed. So, it is even worse than what it was a year ago. And there is no prospect of improvement within the foreseeable month or next few months or a year, even, because the attempt — no attempt has been visible on the reconstruction of all those facilities. So, I would say a year after the invasion, life is miserable in Baghdad. It was much more — it is a lot worse than it was in 2003.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a retired Iraqi engineer, talking to us from Baghdad. The attitude to U.S. soldiers?
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: Well, the attitude to U.S. soldiers are becoming more hostile because the U.S. soldiers are misbehaving and mishandling the people. They are shooting more people. But yesterday they killed a photographer and a journalist for Al-Arabiyah Newspaper according to the eye-witness reports and I have seen on television. Unjustifiably and without, you know — it is actually a cold-blood murder of those two journalists. So, that’s bound to increase the resistance against the U.S. invasion. I was told today that the other part of Baghdad, which used to be called Saddam City, a dominantly Shiite area in Baghdad, there is a demonstration against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, in terms —
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: And —
AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Ghazwan.
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: So, things are — are not improving. They are deteriorating and deteriorating rapidly. I was just traveling on the Amman to Baghdad road two nights ago and we had to stop for two hours because it was dark and we were chased by a pickup truck which the driver. It was some people trying to hijack the car on the road. So, when we stopped about 60 kilometers or 70 kilometers from the Iraqi border inside Iraq. We stopped. We couldn’t travel because it was too dangerous. We found more than 300 cars parked at a coffee shop and we have to wait until about 5:30 in the morning so we can go on a convoy together.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you are an —
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: But —
AMY GOODMAN: You are an engineer. In terms of reconstruction, what has happened?
GHAZWAN AL-MUKHTAR: Visibly, nothing. There painted few schools and they cleaned some of the rubble off of the buildings that have been bombed. Let me give you an example, which uses a telephone exchange which serves my area. In 1991, that building was totally demolished with all the equipment destroyed. With the engineers of Iraq managed to clear the rubble, redesign the building, building it and having it operational in three to four months. Now with a year after the occupation — by the way, we did that despite the sanctions and we didn’t have Bechtels or Halliburtons and all those highly-paid advisers. We did it in three months. Now a year after the invasion they haven’t rebuilt the building. They just rerouted the cables, put a container on the floor on the ground and they are trying to fix the telephone system. I still don’t have a telephone after three years. After a year. I’m talking to you by a mobile phone that may or may not work. I have a backup system and another system just in case things don’t work out.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, I want to thank you for being with us. Retired engineer speaking to us from Baghdad on this first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.