At an evening gathering to say goodbye to one of the
CPT Iraq team members, I visited with Rajal. He is about
twenty-five-years old and works as a technician with a U.S.
university here in Suleimaniya. He told us about his recent drive to
Baghdad, where he visited his old neighborhood-his first trip back
since he and his parents had relocated to Suleimaniya in mid-2006.
He was shocked by the city’s change of mood. He
already knew of the terribly distressing experiences the residents
were forced to endure in 2007, how each new day revealed more bodies
lying in the streets. The bloating corpses and foul stench were
evidences of brutal, sustained violence.
Now the city is quiet. He believes it is safe from
random attacks and intrusive searches. However, only about three of
the twenty families who had lived before in his neighborhood are
still there. New groups are living in their houses, and in his
house. People’s behavior is more austere. They seem fatigued and
The dejection of the population displays itself on
the street of Baghdad, where drivers operate their vehicles with
aggression and intolerance. They have no compassion, no respect for
order and taking turns. They cut off others, fiercely preventing any
disruption of their intended journeys.
Rajal will not move back to Baghdad. He will stay in
the north. He is planning to become engaged next month, and he and
his fiancée will move slowly though the traditional preparations for
their wedding, probably about a year away. In spite of the
desperate, uncertain conditions, Rajal will try to make a life for
himself. He and his fiancée hope to raise a family. He believes
such a future is possible.