Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The paths we choose

Whilst I was working in Jordan I worked with a number of Iraqis. One of them was one of our section heads, a guy called Hashem. He was a very direct, forthright and highly principled character and provided myself and my boss with hours of entertainment, thought and frustration!

Obviously working in Jordan through the Iraq war with our Iraqi colleagues was an interesting and challenging time. Fortunately through the natural diplomacy, tact and friendship of all concerned there were few awkward moments.

I will never forget sitting in our company IT room, along with my Jordanian and Iraqi colleagues, watching the news about three days into the war…as we watched the footage of Baghdad being bombed, one of my colleagues turned to me and asked…”How can you allow your government to do that?”…a long conversation followed about democracy, Tony Blair and the British government. It was an awkward moment and I have to say I was grateful that my colleagues were also my friends……

Anyway, back to Hashem…my boss and I had a few interesting moments with him with regard to the Iraq Wars.

The first was late, late one night in January 2003, Hashem and I were talking about when the war would start….we were discussing if his wife and daughter would be able to get out of Baghdad before the war started. I asked him where he had been during the first Gulf War…his answer almost winded me….one word only…”Kuwait”. So the fun, sarcastic, highly intelligent guy who had at one time said he would do anything to defend my honour (not that it needed it, I might add), had been part of the Iraqi invading forces. Pause for thought….we sat a little while longer and discussed his experiences….he was definitely one of the luckier ones.

So, we come to March 2003…the evening the war started. Hashem came into our office and said to my boss (ex-TA and someone who had seriously considered joining the army full time) “I am glad that the British are going in, they will give a good and fair fight. It makes me proud that the Iraqi army will face such an enemy”. He then did his usual heel click and turned and walked out.

My boss turned to me and said….”If I had joined the army, this would have been such a different evening for me.”


Anonymous Dennis said...

For my part one and all ought to look at it.
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