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An Average Iraqi

An Average Iraqi is just a fictional character whose....well, fictional. I will use this character to make a comparison between him and real human beings like myself or any one else.

Name:Hassan
Location:Baghdad, Iraq

My name is Hassan Kharrufa. I am a 20 year old Iraqi student. I study civil engineering at the Department of Building and Construction at Al-Jami3a Al-Taknologia (The Tecknology Univirsity), Baghdad, Iraq.

Iraqi Bloggers BiographyUpdated November 11

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

3 Most Ridiculous Ways to Die in Iraq

  After living in war for a few years, I've heard and saw quite a number of people dead, maybe some of those people deserved to die, and surely some of them didn't deserve to die. Actually I think the number of civilians killed since the beginning of the war until now is much more than the number of US soldiers and terrorists killed together, and some of those civilians died for such stupid reasons that I would have found it impossible to believe it hadn't I heard of them. The reason of this post is to show how much work is going to be needed to be done to make our Iraq return to the way it was before, I know that things would never be perfect, but I will be satisfied when some or all of those 3 reasons of death are gone. Ok I have talked too much already so lets begin:


3: At number three, I have this: It is known in Iraq that one should keep his distance when driving behind a US patrol or any military vehicles, but sometimes driving in front of them could be just as dangerous. Because sometimes the US soldiers are impatient and won't wait for the road to be cleared, so they ram their way through any car in front of them, and sometimes they would shoot any car that comes in front of their way. I remember one accident a when I was having my final exams about two months ago, we were on our way to the university early in the morning, we reached an intersection were we had to turn left but there was this pickup truck stopped right in the middle of the intersection, at first glance I though it was just another dump driver, but then I realized that his face was covered with some newspapers. The guy was dead, turned out he was coming at exactly the way we were, but a US patrol was coming the other way, so they saw him turning toward them and shot him, he died from single shot, but his companion survived to tell the story.


2: Second place is taken by this: Opening a salon in Iraq could be fatal, especially in poor neighborhoods, I have heard of many bomb cars exploding in front of such places, and not just salons are targeted. Sometimes mobile shops, or any place displaying advanced technology, would be targeted for bombing. This is because of the thinking that any thing advanced is brought by the US soldiers, and carrying something like that means that you are working for them and it is a reason to death for many people. I know one of my relatives was once asked by rebels about his portable.


1: The number one is the almost unbelievable: It is perfectly acceptable to open a barber shop in Iraq, but recently many barbers have been shot, their shops targeted and attacked, some of them were even killed by use of silenced weapons in Gazaliya, the reason of the death is that they use a technique in shaving their customers beards, the technique involves using a string to shave some hairs so that they don't grow again. That technique has been used before the war, and I don't know why it is being forbidden now by the rebels, but right now many barbers refuse to use this technique in fear of their lives, and I don't blame them, some of them have signs on their windows saying that they don't use this technique anymore.


  There are other stupid reasons to die for now, but these are the most ridiculous ways to die in Iraq. It is painful enough to lose someone, but it is a lot more painful when he dies for something that isn't even considered a reason for death.



Note: This post has been emailed to my Email List subscribers

43 Comments:

Blogger Raghda Zaid said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" is known in Iraq that one should keep his distance when driving behind a US patrol or any military vehicles, "

Well, see, thats the problem. When I was in Mosul, we were informed by our commanders (we had leaflets we distributed, aired instructions on local radio stations) that it was a MIN of 50 feet infront or behind of military vehicles. Also, you are not allowed to attempt to pass a military convoy, or keep coming toward them while the convoy is merging into a highway.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, we have to do all this, otherwise, shot then dead.. in our own country, for passing a foreign vehicle..

3:29 PM  
Blogger Aunt Najma said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Hassan said...

I know about the 50 m thing, there is always a sign on the back of the last humvee telling us to stay 50 m behind (nice touch), but sometimes the guys infront of the convoy won't see it coming. So does that mean they have to die?? May I suggest a syrine or something that you guys can use to tell us to get out of the way, saving both of us, you; your time, and us; our lives.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Hi Hassan,

#3 will stop someday...for sure.

#2 and #1 ? only an insaine person knows what this means...so my mind can't say anything about it.

take care

11:09 PM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

I can understand how riding in front of a convoy could be a problem. It took me a minute but I believe you mean siren instead of syrine. One of the safe driving practice I use is to always be aware of what going on all around my car while driving; this includes frequently checking my rear view mirror. If I were in Iraq, with the conditions you identified here, I think I would be checking the rear view mirror even more.

In addition, I tend to believe that it is more of a safety issue than impatience that is causing soldiers to not want to wait for the road to clear. For some strange reason some people in Iraq like to carry bombs in their vehicles and ram into the U.S. vehicles, or simply shoot at them. (This alone should discourage other drivers from traveling too close to U.S. vehicles.) Getting stuck in a traffic jam in Iraq is a very dangerous situation (so I am told).

I am surprised that people who blow themselves up is not one of your top reasons.

8:43 AM  
Blogger ac blue eagle said...

I agree with Stryker! The barber business is nuts, and I also agree with Stryker that the number one reason for all the deaths in Iraq is all the suicide bombers and the others placing bombs anywhere. Get rid of those people, your electicity will become normal, your oil fields will boost your economy, you will see Iraq become the country it should be.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, we have to do all this, otherwise, shot then dead.. in our own country, for passing a foreign vehicle.."

No, during daylight hours a warning shot is always fired. During nights, light is shined, then warning shot.
The reason we dont like vehicles close infront of us, is they can use them to block us in during an ambush, or slow down and blow up, or pull over to the side and blow up. One of the things I noticed in Iraq was that Iraqi's seem to not notice what is going on around them at all. I could be in a 6 vegicle convoy with 4 gun trucks, a M113, and a Abrams, and the taxi driver infront of us in the intersection will not notice us until we are next to him. You need to make some changes to your drivers training course.
I am guessing that I will be back in Mosul by the end of this year.

8:34 PM  
Blogger S J said...

okay, 2 of the anon posts above were mine, i just registered

8:38 PM  
Blogger Hassan said...

I am surprised that people who blow themselves up is not one of your top reasons

Dear strykeraunt, the reasons I mentioned are RIDICULOUS reasons to die, and they are not even considered a reason for death, but I have to agree that it would be on the top of Iraqis death reasons. And yes I think I mean siren, thanks for the correction.

You need to make some changes to your drivers training course.

After the war there has not been any training courses for driving, no such thing as a driver license, all you have to do is to get a legal car to drive, you don't even have to be 18.

9:28 PM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Hassan,

Thank you for clarifying your position. While I am not entirely agree with your position regarding the U.S. military, I do applaud you for offering a solution instead of simply complaining.

I hope that you did not take my word correction as an insult. Your written language is very good (better than many who speak/write English as a first language). I usually wouldn't correct someone's writing, however, since your writing is so good I wasn't sure if it was a problem in translation.

Perhap's a driver's license in Iraq would be an improvement (I believe I have read in one of your previous posts that the driver's in Iraq are terrible). As more people are able to afford vehicles the problem is only going to get worse. I realize that this probably is not a priority as this point...but maybe someday :D

9:48 AM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Hassan, as you can see from my above post, my written English is not always good either. I need to learn to be more patient when posting on blogs and proof read my writing before pushing the publish button. I often don't see the mistake until it is too late (GRRRR)

9:52 AM  
Blogger Lani said...

"The reason of this post is to show how much work is going to be needed to be done to make our Iraq return to the way it was before"
The way it was before? Let's hope not!

7:32 PM  
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6:58 AM  
Blogger quixote said...

Hassan-

You have oceans of patience. Too many of the comments show our (Americans) ignorance about too much.

First the minor points. I've never driven in Iraq, but I drove in Teheran, in peace time. The traffic was, how should I put this?, *lively*. If I'd checked my rear view mirror as much as stryker suggests I would have crashed into someone. I suspect Baghdad under current conditions is even livelier.

I read about driving styles under Saddam Hussein. It was important to look at nothing, act oblivious, and under all circumstances to keep driving. It sounds like Iraqis got very good at that. Now the American want them to drive like Americans, or (shades of Saddam?!) they're history. Hello? This is reasonable?

Finally, a major point. Americans do not seem to have a clue about the responsibilities of an occupying power. Soldiers in an occupation army are supposed to protect, PROTECT, the civilians under their charge. Soldiers can defend themselves, definitely, but they can't go around blazing away without committing a war crime. It is a war crime to kill civilians under your charge. Go look it up if you don't believe me.

I know there are suicide bombers in Iraq. There are all kinds of bombers in Iraq. That does not release Americans from their international obligations. If we didn't want those obligations, then what the hell did we go in there and start mucking about for? Shooting at civilians because you're nervous is a human failing, but it is not an excuse. Trained soldiers are supposed to have that understandable, but bad, reaction trained out of them.

Okay. End of rant. Having yelled at my co-commenters, I also want to say that compared with many Americans I've seen responding to posts about the Iraq war, you're a polite group and make your points in a calm and reasonable way. Which I guess is more than anyone can say for me.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a common misconception, among those who have never been a soldier or those who never made it past boot camp, that soldiers are supposed to be trained to be ignorant, unquestioning weapons platforms that are moved around by their COs on a whim, shooting whoever they are ordered to shoot and letting themselves die whenever they are ordered to die (or not ordered to shoot). People who believe things like this make it clear through comments along the lines of, "If the soldiers misbehave, it's the COs fault" or "Soldiers should be trained to not shoot at civilians even if those civilians keep blowing them up."

May God protect our soldiers from people like this. Our military's power stems from the autonomy we give our rank and file soldiers, not from their absolute and unquestioning obedience.

The main reason Bill Clinton was so hated by the US Armed Forces was because he, too, thought soldiers were supposed to be trained as totally subservient automations, and couldn't understand why they could possibly resent being sent into battles with no support and left to die. After all, isn't that the soldier's real purpose in life, killing as many as you can and dying when your officers tell you to?

The truth is, it isn't. That's the difference between indoctrination and education.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Mirco said...

The problem with drivers in Iraq will stem, mainly, from the lack of driving licences and the lack of correct education in how to survive in heavy traffic.
In Europe and in Italy, the middle easterns and the africans have often a drive licences (from their home countries) but they have near any education on how manage a car in heavy traffic, what is wise to do or what is required.

This is not a minor problem, because a car is no much different from a weapon in the wrong hands.
In Iraq the situation is worsened from the terrorists, but without them, as the number of cars will grow, the number of deads from cars and other automotive will rise.
In Italy only the 2003 (a good year) deads are 6.015 (probably more).
I'm thinking that in Iraq are dieing more people from car crash than from the war.

And, yes, the majority of italian people will always free the way of any public service veicle when possible (ambulances, police cars, military and politicians/magistrates securities - the last for personal safety as they are really reckless)

5:30 PM  
Blogger quixote said...

To Anonymous who posted just after me above: I never said soldiers should be automatons. (It wasn't part of the topic, but I also don't believe they should be cannon fodder.) A soldier's purpose is not "to kill as many as possible." It is to kill as many enemy *soldiers* as possible. Being able to distinguish between nerves and danger is the essence of NOT being an automaton.

Small wonder the US is losing hearts and minds at the rate that we are, if this is what you (don't) learn in boot camp.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what if the enemy refuses to wear a uniform? Refuses to be an enemy soldier? We can't kill them then, and must simply accept that they can kill as many of our soldiers (and after we pull out, as many civilians) as they want?

Watch this video, and see if you can tell, with the benefit of rewinding and fast forwarding, which car is the terrorist car, and how the military could have told it apart from the other cars on the road.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/video/VBIED.wmv

The soldiers don't have the luxury of your illuminated hindsight in the field.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, our soldiers are not trained to instantly tell nerves apart from true danger. Nor are they trained to fly like Superman, shoot laser beams from their eyes, or split the entire planet Earth in half with a single punch.

I'm sure this is very disappointing to Mr. Quixote, but our soldiers are trained to do as much as HUMANLY possible. Unfortunately, humans will make mistakes, especially when confronted on a daily basis by exploding cars designed to look exactly like regular ones, as well as terrorist sympathizers who will do everything in their power to imitate a car bomb attack in the hope of provoking an armed response and scoring a propaganda victory.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to iraq two months ago for a 4 day visit, the place is horrible, sad and very miserable.
The american soldiers (not all) are rude and very aggressive. I was at the checkpoint to the airport when they demanded to see my passport, i said my passport is in the car I will get it for you. He immeidately started swearing at me and pointed his gun! this is terrifying... yet another soldier was vary nice to me and we were chatting for a while about the heat in Iraq and about the his hometown in Texas...
I felt very comfortable chatting to the texan and felt no animosity towards him even though he is an invading army, yet the one that swore at me, I wanted him out of there and hoped that someone will get him.
So if there are soldiers on this forum, it may save your lives and civilian lives to be nice to the Iraqis. No need to swear at hem, no need to look down at them, no need to call them names. be nice to them and they will respect you and ptorect you from the terrorist.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Hassan said...

To the Anon who posted the video:

I watched the video, I want to tell a few thing but you I don't want you to be angry, so if you feel what I write is offending and a reason for anger, I apologize in advace.

I'll get to the point immediatly: The guys in the car where careless. They where going at a moderate speed, not fast and not slow. To have any chance of surviving their servises, they have to go slow and carefull, and always check for the parked cars, and since the cars are equipped with jammers, wirless ways of exploding shouldn't be a problem, so as you can see, I don't know if anyone was killed in that one, but it there was, they shoud learn from this one and be ready for the next one.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jammers don't do anything to prevent a suicide bomber from hitting a button. Only bullets do that, which comes back to the problem of telling innocent civilians from terrorist suicide bombers (using the awesome psychic training Mr. Quixote seems to think should be standard for American soldiers.)

8:37 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Hassan,

I am very sorry for the innocent drivers who get killed, and for the surviving loved ones who grieve them.

It is a horrible tragedy, thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Please let us know if the Iraqi government and the coalition troops end up resolving this terrible problem.

10:52 PM  
Blogger S J said...

"The american soldiers (not all) are rude and very aggressive."

REALLY? Agressive? Who would have thought... Combat Soldiers agressive. Rude? How shameful.... [thats sarcasm, for those of you who didnt get it]

When I was there, I treated all civilians respectfully. But my commitment to bringing home my brothers alive, demands violence of action in certain circumstances.
I enjoyed my time in Iraq (partly), I saw many historical locations. I really liked most Iraqi's.

I told you once, never, not once did any 82nd soldier fire (that I saw) indiscriminantly at a vehicle. We ARE highly trained, and react to certain situations the way we were trained.
To us, it isnt a peacekeeping deployment. We dont do peacekeeping. This is a combat deployment. To close with, and destroy the enemy.
"Peacekeeping" is fundamentaly flawed anyway. It gives the opposing force the iniative (the way that most peacekeeping is executed). If you loose the iniative, you will loose.

I wonder if any of you in Mosul recognise this patch.
http://www.militaryclothing.com//ImgUpload/P_863905_1127806.JPG

Sometimes I tell myself that this is not worth it, we should have left Iraq to rot under Saddams reign of fear. Let him comit genocide against the kurds. Let his sons walk the streets, choosing at random young women to rape. Left Saddam, sitting in his million dollar palaces drinking and whoring while his people starved.
But then, I remember the good we did over there, and I press on.

2:47 AM  
Blogger S J said...

"http://www.militaryclothing.com
/ImgUpload/P_863905_1127806.JPG

2:48 AM  
Blogger Mad Canuck said...

SJ: the first link opened just fine - you just had to copy it and paste it into the address bar. In case you are interested, if you want to put up a link in a blog post, you just type in HTML codes like this: [a href="http://www.militaryclothing.com//ImgUpload/P_863905_1127806.JPG"]this[/a] (substituting angled brackets <> for square brackets [] so the link would appear like this)

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Don Cox said...

"I'm thinking that in Iraq are dieing more people from car crash than from the war."___I have been thinking this too. I wonder if there are any figures for deaths and injuries in road accidents in Iraq over the past few years.

7:58 PM  
Blogger quixote said...

This is in response to earlier posts. I had said nerves were no excuse for shooting civilians. I got back the tired old answer about the uncooperative guerrillas not being marked with targets. I'm a civilian, obviously. However, perhaps you will consider what a colonel has to say. From The Australian:

"Australian and British military legal advisers frequently had to "red card" more trigger-happy US forces to limit civilian casualties during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to one of the Australian advisers.

"Colonel Mike Kelly, writing in the Australian Army Journal, says the junior partners in the coalition forces succeeded in reducing civilian casualties and reinforcing the legitimacy of the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

"In the most detailed insight yet into the secret rules Australian forces operated under during the conflict in 2003, Colonel Kelly, who went on to become a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said for Australian forces to open fire the enemy was "required to visibly carry weapons [emphasis added] while deploying for an attack".

"Defence sources said that under more relaxed US rules there only had to be a "reasonable suspicion" that the person was an enemy combatant and a threat . . .

"During Operation Iraqi Freedom legal differences in assessing legitimate targets, tended to be resolved by the use of the 'red card'," Colonel Kelly writes.

"This card involved the coalition partners being able to indicate their disapproval in their targeting or tactics in any mission that ran contrary to their legal obligations."

"He added: "The United States generally accepted these decisions ... (it was) prepared to modify its approach in the interest of harmony with its military partners . . . "


Yes, I know, the damn fighters hide their weapons too. The rules of war were invented by people who never had to face such terrible conditions and uncooperative natives as the Americans.

7:07 PM  
Blogger quixote said...

The stuff just keeps on coming. This is from someone quoted on Juan Cole's site. He's in the military and trains recruits on the Rules of Engagement. The man is obviously a lawyer, because he goes on forever, but very lucidly. It's worth reading the whole post. Meanwhile, a few excerpts:

"
The crucial difference is simply one of mindset. The British ROE [Rules of Engagement] is broad enough that, even if we operated under it, we would still be doing everything exactly as we are now.

...

I think that many people use the phrase, "Rules of Engagement," to mean "the manner in which you use force." It may have value as shorthand, but because it actually is a term of art with a real meaning, it tends to confuse the issue. When the Brits say they don't like our ROE, they really mean that they think we are a bunch of cowboys who respond with overwhelming lethal fire to every actual or arguable threat. When we say we don't like their ROE, it means something to the effect that we think they don't understand what's really going on over there and that they are a bunch of [expurgated version] namby-pamby wankers who are afraid to do real fighting.

...

One of the ways we train our Marines is by going over scenarios with them. In one, I propose that they are traveling down the highway in a convoy. As they approach an overpass, they see a military age male standing on the middle of the overpass with something about the size of a baseball (grenade-sized) in his hands. When he sees the convoy, he freezes. What should you do? Most of the Marines will say, "He's demonstrated hostile intent, you need to waste him. He could be holding a hand grenade and be intending to drop it into one of the trucks as you pass under." (This is an actual tactic used by the insurgents).

I change the scenario and say that when he sees you, he drops to the ground on the overpass. Some Marine will invariably answer, to the acclaim of his fellow Marines, "That's a hostile act. He's taking cover because he's about to detonate an IED on you. You need to take him out." (Also something they've actually seen.)

Finally, I change the scenario to say that, when he sees you, he turns around in the direction from which he came and starts running off the overpass (you can see where this is going). The answer is usually that that too is a hostile act or hostile intent because he is clearly trying to get off that overpass before the IED goes off.

Apparently, the only safe action for the [military age male] to take is to have Scotty beam him up. As far as some Marines are concerned, the presence of an Arab male in proximity to an American convoy may be all you need to find hostile act/hostile intent. This is, of course, highly reminiscent of that quip in Michael Herr's Dispatches, "The ones who run are VC [Viet Cong]. The ones who don't run are well-disciplined VC."
"

11:52 PM  
Blogger S J said...

Um. Not really. He could raise his hands above his head, and move infront of the car so we could see if he is armed, carrying anything, etc..

5:54 AM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Hey Quixote, since you are doing a little research check this one out.

http://www.michaelyon.blogspot.com/

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is, of course, highly reminiscent of that quip in Michael Herr's Dispatches, "The ones who run are VC [Viet Cong]. The ones who don't run are well-disciplined VC."

FYI, this is actually a quote from the movie "Full Metal Jacket":
http://imdb.com/title/tt0093058/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/quotes

10:28 PM  
Blogger Combat Doc said...

I personally shot a guys car for not backing away when he was behind my Stryker. I gave the hand signal for stop and he came closer. Thinking "car bomb" I gave his engine an extra hole. And for uneducated anonymous at the bottom that is from Michael Herr's Dispatches. He also wrote the commentary by Willard in Apocalypse Now and the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket was taken from most of his Vietnam stories in the book.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anne from New York City said...

I would rather die than live knowing I had killed an innocent person.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know i know i know.... the mean americans what to do what to do oh they shoot at us they are so bad... ok think of the people we fight in this country and think of a way we can tell them from u????? cant???? ok then dont act like them.... yes sir i understand this i your like your country your rights .......... but guess who has the ridiculously over sized machine gun..... sooo..... lets give them their space eh?????

12:04 PM  
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8:20 PM  
Blogger mewmewmew said...

Well, see, thats the problem. When I was in Mosul, we were informed by our commanders (we had leaflets we distributed, aired instructions on local radio stations) that it was a MIN of 50 feet infront or behind of military vehicles. Also, you are not allowed to attempt to pass a military convoy, or keep coming toward them while the convoy is merging into a highway.



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