Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Iraq six years on — waving hello or goodbye?


By Aws Qusay

BAGHDAD – When U.S. bombs rained on Baghdad in 2003, rocking the ground beneath me, I would never have imagined U.S. soldiers would later join my family for a birthday party.

In fact, I and most Iraqis could not believe Saddam Hussein was really on his way out six years ago. Even after his statue was toppled in Firdos Square, many believed his real plan  to eject the Americans would come, and that the easy invasion was really an ambush. In the end it kind of was, though not of Saddam’s doing.

When U.S. soldiers first came, I remember them sitting on their tanks, waving hello. As a student of English, I was curious and eager to talk to them, even though I still worried about what Saddam’s people would do if I was seen. A U.S. soldier told me he’d defend me from Saddam even if he only had the small pistol strapped to his leg, which made me laugh, but my father took him seriously, and was hopeful. Some soldiers shouted “shaku maku”, meaning “what’s up” in Iraqi slang, eliciting shy smiles and nervous waves from Iraqis.

During a regular American house-to-house search they tumbled upon my family celebrating a birthday, and they stayed for a while at our invitation, cheering with us. We swapped phone numbers, took photos together, and they even stayed to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show with us on TV.