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Baghdad Calling
Fiona Lewry
New ZealandGALLERYCONVERSATION
Eventually Sallah appears, and we are off to his land again, to change vehicles – we have a different driver this time, someone he...
Sallah tells us that Fallujah is the only place in Iraq where (even during Saddam’s regime) there was never a ruling Governor. It’s a real rebel town based on the traditional tribal system (which still exists). They are very proud and dignified people who will not accept just having any person promoted to a ruling Governor. of their multi-tribal society. The first Governor lasted a day before he was shot dead, the second, two.
A conversation in Arabic takes place between the Fixer and the driver. Next thing we know, we are off-roading, trying to find a different route. We can hear automatic gunfire. And it sounds quite close.
There is an absolute lack of communication between the GIs and the Iraqis. When they first arrived in the country they would use their standard hand signals to get Iraqi drivers to stop on the highway. Hand signals that the locals didn’t understand. Hand signals that got you shot if you didn’t halt for them.
We are hemmed in between the car behind and the car in front of us. Eventually the car behind reverses out and we too can set off at speed, over the desert sands away from the troops, through burnt out wrecks of trucks and oil containers (relieved of the driving chassis) into Fallujah.
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