Wednesday, December 31, 2003

While the southern events are important...the Kurds could be the match that lights a larger fire.
Chris Allbritton continues to intrigue me with comments and insights about the Kurds in Iraq, over at Back-to-Iraq. I'll be very interested to see not only what an essay he's working on right now about this subject will have to say, but what reports he'll be sending us when he's back in-country in March...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

This article, brought to my attention by a recent posting on Back-to-Iraq, is rather interesting. There appears to be an emerging pattern of support by some Jews for an independent Kurdistan, or at least an autonomous state within Iraq.

Which leads me to this article, talking about how the Kurds are asserting themselves in the current political process of rebuilding Iraq. Now is definitely the time for them to make themselves heard...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Alas, new information makes it look like the so-called Kurdish claims were never made by the Kurds themselves, but were a product of bad journalism...

Monday, December 22, 2003

Kurds make claim to Kirkurk for historical, not economic reasons. However, it would be a wonderful coupe for them to have the revenue the oil fields would bring them to build the new Kurdistan. The current situation is making the Kurdish political parties bold; now is definitely the time to make such claims!
Kurds claim that they were the ones responsible for Saddam's capture, that without their military intelligence and expertise, Saddam would still be at large...

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I just spoke with Eva on the phone. She is home in Nashville! She arrived late Thursday evening, and spent yesterday arranging for her house utilities to be turned on. She hopes to be in her home tomorrow.

She said she ended up being in Damascus for almost a week, having to rearrange flights due to schedule limitations. While in Damascus, she was in the hotel most of the time, but towards the end, a local Kurdish taxi driver took them for a drive around town, including to what Eva called 'little Kurdistan', a neighborhood in Damascus of Kurdish immigrants.

This past Thursday, they made immediate connections once in Amman to fly out to Chicago, so she never had any time to look around there. In Chicago, there were multiple delays for the connection to Nashville due to weather. Eva joked she was about to rent a car and drive home!

Eva found out that she and the boys could have avoided having jaundice if they had had a Hepatitis Type A vaccination before leaving. She had trusted her physician to know all the shots she'd need, but that one was overlooked. She'll know better next time.

I asked her if Meran likes his job, if he's glad he went. She said yes, he likes his job very much. He's in a unique position due to his life experience, having been in refugee camps and having time to study in his native language for four straight years before coming to America, then learning English well. He knows both languages fluently and that makes him a good asset to the US military.

He has translated, for instance, for training of Pershmergas being trained as police officers by US military. He has also been with operations on the border where they were investigating smuggling operations. I asked Eva about what we've been hearing about the intelligence raids going wrong due to bad information, or despite good information the translators getting addresses wrong and innocent people being harassed, threatened, and scared out of their it's making people turn against the US military. Eva said that in Meran's experience, there has been negative situations. He has known some soldiers that have bad attitudes towards all Iraqis, no matter who they are. He has coworkers, other translators, that have said, "Yes, the money is good, but it's not worth the harassment", and have resigned their jobs and returned to the US. Due to this concern, while Meran was in the hospital recovering from his surgery, he contacted the commanding officer for the area and spoke to him about this concern. From what Eva understood, the situation improved because of this; what that means, I don't know. Maybe upper command wasn't aware of it and due to Meran's intercession, down the chain of command, word was sent to be more respectful and it has helped. We can only hope...

Eva is very proud of Meran. He's very level-headed, and hard-working, and due to that, he's well-respected by the people he works with there. But as always, she misses him!

Monday, December 15, 2003

The local Kurdish community celebrated Sunday night due to Saddam's capture! According to this (and many other independent sources), the Kurds in Iraq had a key role in Saddam's capture...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Hussein was reportedly “tired” and “resigned” when captured in a dirt hole outside of Adwar, a town about 10 miles from Tikrit. Kurdish peshmergas helped locate him, according to some statements from the Iraqi Governing Council.
Chris Allbritton writes that he has serious doubts that the insurgents will back down despite Saddam being captured, and explains why...
From my son-in-law Meran, via email...
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 06:54:14 -0500

Goooooooood news Saddam Hussien got captured last night. I am very happy. Thank Allah and long life U.S.A. The sky of dohuk is lighting up from AK-47's bullets, every body are celebrating in Dohuk city...
A powerful website of women from Iraq, mostly in exile, who are fighting politically for a free and open society in their home country. Many are Kurds...

Friday, December 12, 2003

'For several weeks, here exclusively on FRONTLINE's website, we're presenting an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the making of an upcoming FRONTLINE documentary on Iraq. Beginning with a dispatch from the chaotic border between Turkey and Iraq, the team that produced the recent "Truth, War and Consequences" and last year's "In Search of Al Qaeda" -- correspondent and producer Martin Smith, co-producer Marcela Gaviria, and photographer Scott Anger -- will send vivid updates on their journey into the Kurdish north, across the rebellious Sunni lands of central Iraq to Baghdad, and south to the sacred Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf, as they take a hard look at the country to which President Bush vows to bring democracy. Their documentary, "Beyond Baghdad," will air on FRONTLINE in January 2004.'
To see and hear more, go here...

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Eva was finally able to get through to me on her satellite 'call through' phone at about 2:30pm today! I was thrilled to hear from her at last. She was calling from Meran's uncle's home in Dohuk, the city Meran is now stationed in. They were having a send-off gettogether for Eva and the boys...

She's leaving tomorrow at 8:30am local time. Due to what seems like rather arbitrary travel restrictions/guidelines, she won't have as streamlined a way home as she did on her way in-country. This time, she'll head to Komishlu, catch a connecting flight to Damascus, Syria. She'll have to stay there for two days, and while there contact the local PKK (or whatever the Kurdish political party is called now) office for assistance on some details in her departure. On Monday, fly to Amman, Jordan, staying another two days (required again, for whatever reason!), then leave on Wednesday, December 17th to Chicago, catching a connecting flight there to Nashville arriving home at around 10:30pm. It will be one very long day...

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Chief Wiggles shares about his organization's most recent 'side-trip' to the main game - giving out toys to Kurdish children in a village in the north. It was covered, he said, by Kurdish TV and broadcast around the world via Satellite.

The Chief is one of the best of the best, trying to help sort out the mess that is currently Iraq. It isn't easy, with corruption everywhere...

Sunday, December 07, 2003

While I was out yesterday, Eva got ahold of my sister on Messenger chat...
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Hello Aunt Betty!
BettyBoop says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Mom told you I am overseas right?
BettyBoop says:
Where are you, at this moment?
BettyBoop says:
Oh yes.
BettyBoop says:
Are you still sick???
Eva/Nirgaz says:
In Duhok, Iraq
BettyBoop says:
How are the kids??
Eva/Nirgaz says:
BettyBoop says:
oh good, we were so worried.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I am better, I had Jaundice, and Bilal too, for two weeks
BettyBoop says:
Last we heard, you did not know when or if you were coming back or staying for a year.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
How are you?
BettyBoop says:
We are fine.
BettyBoop says:
Going to do Christmas baking today.
BettyBoop says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I am returning on Thursday, well starting out, should be back by the 16th or 17th
Eva/Nirgaz says:
here too!
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Don't talk about baking, its making my mouth water
BettyBoop says:
Did you want to stay longer or just impossible at this point?
BettyBoop says:
Well, you know me; baking about 15 different recipes. I miss you sweetie.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I was willing, but after seeing the conditions here, I wasn't too impressed and felt it was better for me and the kids to go back to the states even if it meant that we wouldn't get to see Meran as often.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I miss you too, maybe I will try and come up in the Summer
BettyBoop says:
Wow I didn't know you were starting out Thurs. does your Mom know? She never mentioned it.
BettyBoop says:
That would be great to see you again.
BettyBoop says:
What time is it over there now?
Eva/Nirgaz says:
No, I have been trying to get ahold of her, but her message always answers
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Midnight, I am at a netcafe
BettyBoop says:
Cool, it is 3 pm here now.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I will let you go, but let Mom know I was trying to get ahold of her, I will try and call again before Thursday.
BettyBoop says:
I know your Mom would be going to get Grandma for her hair appointment.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I love you, and tell everyone hello
BettyBoop says:
ok, LOVE YOU MUCH and please take care. XO
Eva/Nirgaz says:
will do, keep me in your prayers
Eva/Nirgaz says:
BettyBoop says:
Nice to hear from her, even though it was through someone else. It'll even be better when I hear from her after she's back in Tennessee. Speaking of which, there is a fascinating article about a mother who travelled to Iraq recently to visit her daughter who is in the National Guard, who is from Tennessee; her adventure in getting there makes interesting reading...

Friday, December 05, 2003

I received email from Meran that Eva and the boys are now feeling better. That is great news! Whatever it was they had, they are on the mend. He also gave a date for their return: December 15th. It will be good to have them back home in the States...

I could tell Meran was disappointed, and I know Eva is, too, that it didn't work out as they had hoped. He was willing to rent a home just for Eva and the boys, to make it more pleasant for her, but in the end, she still wanted to come home. I don't know all the details yet, but if Eva wants to come home, it must have been a tough time.

I have a feeling she'll be going back one of these days, though. Now was just not the best time...

"If there's such a thing as reincarnation, I must've been a Kurd in my past life. How could you not respect and admire the people who have survived some of the most vicious attacks by enemies from near and far for a big part of modern history, yet have managed to maintain their dignity, their unique sense of culture and arts, their wonderful customs and language, and their distinctive outlook on life?

"A smile is never that far from the lips of a Kurd when meeting a stranger, and neither is a song when happy or a scream when facing injustice. Kurds personify what every human being strives to be; strong, sensitive, responsible and sincere. This also is their main problem..."
An interesting essay of personal reflection by an Iranian...

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

This travel warning from the State Department recommends no travel by US citizens in Iraq. Increasing security concerns even in relatively quiet areas overide any guarantees of safety. I continue to hope that Eva, Salih, Bilal, and Mu'min return home soon.

In the meantime, I've been reading up on Malaria*. Sounds nasty. Hope they're feeling better by now, or at least getting necessary treatment...

* This link at the World Health Organization explains that Iraq definitely has had major problems with Malaria in the past and still does. Programs to control it were becoming successfull through the 1990's, but now with the war, they have been interrupted. One of the areas with the highest outbreaks is in the area of Duhok, which is not far from where Eva and Meran are. Time of year also makes a difference. It is the rainy season now, which increases the host populations (mosquitos) which carry the parasite that causes the disease...

Monday, December 01, 2003

Below is a recent email exchange between my son-in-law and myself (just this past weekend...) It is in chronological order, from most recent backwards.

I learned that things have definitely changed for them due to health concerns. My hunch is that Eva and the boys may be experiencing malaria. Either way, I urged him in another email to make sure they get seen by a doctor ASAP, if they haven't already...

I think it would be best, Meran, if they are that sick, if they come back now. I think I have to agree with Eva in that case. It is too bad they are so sick, but things might get worse before they get better. It's better to be safe than sorry, as an old saying of ours goes.

Let me know what is going on as soon as possible.

I noticed Eva tried to call me the other day, but I missed the call. I tried to call back, but even with the help of an international operator, we couldn't figure out how to get a call all the way through to the phone Eva uses. They said the number coming up was a land line in downtown London, England, and they couldn't track it past that. Oh well, I tried! I was very disappointed, though.

If Eva can call again, tell her to try. I always try to have my phone with me...

Tell Eva I love her, and that I hope she and Salih, Bilal, and Mu'min are feeling better soon!

How are you doing? Are you out of the hospital now? Are you feeling better?

Eva said you might be going to Mosul again to work. Your message below indicated you are still up north. Will you be moving?

I wonder why Eva is sick now? She was there for some weeks and was OK. Mmmmm....

OK, I will not send anything right now. I will wait.

Take care of yourself, Meran. It can be a very dangerous place there now, as you know...



From: meran.abdullah
To: Trish Lewis
Subject: Re: hey you missed talking with you!! :)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 10:08:21 -0500

I think Nirgaz wants to go back to u.s. very soon. I am trying to keep her and the kids here for about one year, but she don't like it, I even told her if it will make you happer I will rent a house for you and the kids. all the kids and Nirgaz are sick all the time, they start trowing up, daireya and having yellow eyes and all of their body are yellowish. I am find and I am station 1/2 mile from my uncle's house and were Nirgaz and kids lives. don't sent anything her, Nirgaz have already hard time finding the way taking all the things that she have and bought with her back to the states.

love son in law
Meran and Nirgaz and all kids

From: Trish Lewis
Date: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 4:32 pm
Subject: hey you guys!!! :

Meran & Eva:

Hope you're all doing well. I haven't mailed anything because I'm in a muddle. Not sure what to mail, or where to mail it! What do the boys like? What might you two need/like? Should I send everything to the APO address, or only something to you, Meran there, and the rest, Eva, to Nashville? HELP!

I read this blog today from a girl who lives in Baghdad. Really something to read! All about what's happening to people she knows, for instance, in Tikrit right ...

Tell me news. Tell me how much fun it is in the hospital, Meran (just teasing)...great food, eh?!!!

Tell me what's happening, Eva. What are the boys up to?

Love, Mom