Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: The lucky ones

June 1, 2008 | 11:32 am

By Saif Rasheed in Baghdad

Last year, I was in the United Arab Emirates trying to settle my small family there and escape the civil war that convulsed Baghdad in 2006 and most of 2007.

I spotted an Iraqi politician at a shopping mall. He was a member of the Sunni Tawafuq bloc. He was enjoying his time with his family in this huge and fancy mall.

He told me his family lived in the UAE and he traveled between Baghdad and the Gulf country. We knew each other from my work in Baghdad with the Los Angeles Times. We had met several times and talked on the phone for interviews.

Last week, I saw him for the first time since I returned to Baghdad. He was at the convention center where the parliament meets for sessions.

After I finished interviewing him, he told me: “So you returned to Baghdad?”

I said: “Yes, after my work visa was rejected, I moved back to Baghdad.”

He said: “It is better that you and your family have returned because Iraq needs educated and opened-minded people like yourself. The only people left in Iraq are the religious, sectarian-minded ones.”

Then he talked about how his family was still abroad.

I thought to myself since it was "better" for me to stay here with my family, shouldn't he do the same?