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Firas Al-Atraqchi: Iraqis Phone In Last Wills


Iraqis Phone In Their Last Wills


By Firas Al-Atraqchi

Baghdad, Iraq is in a state of psychological disarray.

Families with financial means have started to crowd buses leaving Baghdad for the outlying villages, towns, and cities within Iraq, and for Syria, Jordan and Iran.

Iraqis abroad have scrambled to send money to third-party intermediaries in Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates hoping their families in Iraq will receive these necessary funds within the next 48 hours.

"I just sent 500 dollars (U.S.) to my sister in Dubai," said an Iraqi living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who prefered not to be identified. "I hope she can get it to my mother in Saddam City. She has no one to take care of her - if the American smart bombs don't kill her, I am afraid of the civil strife."

Baghdadis are preparing for the worst after U.S. President George Bush's latest threats and are fully aware that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will destroy Iraq before letting someone else take it over.

"We know he will burn it (Iraq). He will burn the oil, and he will burn himself if need be. He will never surrender. The only way to take Iraq from him is to kill everyone in Iraq first," said Azad, 38, from Amman, after slipping across the Iraq-Jordan border earlier this morning.

Iraqis are expecting to die in the next few days and seem resigned to whatever faith befalls them. Many Iraqis with the means to do so have phoned relatives living abroad and given them last minute instructions concerning estates, finances, family concerns and wills.

"He told me to look after my children and after the war go and look for my father's home," said a tearful Inas, an Iraqi widow living in Houston, Texas, as she recalled her brother's last phone message to her from Iraq.

"He told me to keep my faith in Allah because he is bigger than Bush, bigger than Saddam and bigger than life and death

The impending death and carnage has put Iraq's neighbors in high alert status as they rush to erect make-shift sanctuary for an expected 900,000 Iraqi refugees in the next few days. International aid agencies, however, are baffled by the low dedication and involvement of the U.S. government to ensure that they have adequate water, health, and food services for such contingencies. United Nations relief officials have admitted they have less than 30 percent of the funds they were promised.

The chaotic planning and rush to get out of Baghdad comes on the heels of the U.N.'s announcement that all its remaining staff was pulling out of Iraq within the next 24 hours.

At approximately 11:00pm EST, IAEA chief Mohammed Al Baradei received a call from U.S. officials advising him and UNMOVIC head Hans Blix to pull their inspection teams from Iraq immediately.

Former U.N. inspectors interviewed on early morning news broadcasts revealed that the inspection teams currently in Iraq are likely to express frustration and anger over the derailment of a process they believed was working in disarming Iraq of alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Political and military analysts have said for some time now that the marching orders of the inspections team would serve as the most telling sign that war is imminent; perhaps, within 24-48 hours.

Meanwhile, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein vowed to fight the invading U.S. and British forces with knives and stones if need be "wherever this air, land, sea".

In the days to come, as the Independent's Robert Fisk has pointed out, most news from Iraq will be censored. Despite a less than glorious track record, Al Jazeerah news will likely be the most reliable source of news.

Thankfully, the American public will be spared the scenes of carnage, devastation and mass death about to be inflicted on the Iraqi people.

They will only be told war stories of heroism and compassion.

The compassion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The only thing that remains right now is to pray, although I believe the Iraqi people may have given up on that temporarily.

So pray for the Iraqi people. Pray for a people caught between the brutality of two leaders.

God bless the Iraqi people. God bless Iraq.

Good night.

ENDS

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