Elevate Difference

Baghdad Burning II: More Girl Blog From Iraq

Some people are covering the war in the Middle East from a distance. Riverbend is blogging directly from Baghdad. This second print installment of Riverbend’s blog offers her entries from late 2004 to the beginning of 2006. There are humorous moments when she offers a Christmas list requesting blast-proof windows, landmine detectors and running water. Her hilarious version of the 2006 Oscars dubbed the Sayid Awards nominates George W. Bush as one of the Best Actors for convincingly portraying “the world’s first mentally challenged president," but she also indicts several Islamic leaders who act unaware of the political climate.

Riverbend is writing with limited access to the world at large yet, she offers a probing perspective. She analyzes media sources, television shows and various drafts of the pending Iraqi constitution. This is an accessible book that introduces the human side of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians impacted by the war in Iraq. The treatment of women is noted. Some of the glaring inequities include being turned away for service in a public place for being improperly covered, when ballots must indicate the sex of the voter, when the grocer says the policy will not change him running his store and Riverbend remembers she cannot work. The abstractions of war and confounded policy in Iraq become concrete in such moments.

Other entries describe the effects of bombing where people still live, celebrate birthdays, shake silt out of the rugs creeping into their homes from dust storms and hope for less than sporadic electricity and water. Riverbend introduces Elin, a translator for the kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll. Elin was killed before Carroll’s abduction, but Iraqis like Riverbend knew him for his record store where people could find refuge in music and conversation before bombings closed the store. Abu Ammar runs the local produce market where the prices for and types of produce available tell people about the conditions in other parts of the country.

Such characters and her analysis sparks offers another voice speaking on the issues that continue to emerge from this Middle Eastern conflict going into its fourth year. Baghdad Burning II gives insights from a person who is experiencing and not just observing. Her ongoing commentary is still being posted at http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/.

Written by: Tara Betts, January 3rd 2007
Tags: Baghdad, iraq, war