Samir is driving home. “Look at the roads ripped apart by the tanks. Iraq is destroyed.” We drove along the airport road. “See, they cut all the date trees because the resistance would ambush the Americans here. Now look, this beautiful park area is used for dumping rubbish. See what Iraqi’s have become, they would not have dared do this under Saddam.”
We arrive at Samir’s home. There is no electricity, Samir is sweating. The generator, which he pays 15,000 Iraq dinar each month for, cannot power the air conditioning. Tempers fray very easy in this heat. Samir can take it no more. “Let us go to your hotel I cannot stand this heat. Fucking Americans!! What have they been doing here for 15 months? Saddam had the electricity sorted in 3 months after the 91 war!” Sweat drips from me as I film Samir. After 8 months with him I dare not offer my lame excuses, ‘Reconstruction takes time…’ I realise now, that these clichés are of no help to those who are here, now, living in this hell.
Samir pulls on his shoes. “People ask me why are you going to the States? Iraq will be full of opportunities… When??? This is why I’m going.. This country will never be right… They’ve ruined it… I told you Sean.. The only people who can re build Iraq are Iraqi’s.”
As we drive to my hotel I notice that the fuel queues are longer than ever. Definitely longer than they were 8 months ago when I arrived. I cannot answer the simple question of Why? Why are people still queuing for fuel in a land built on petrol? Why are people still waiting for electricity in the second summer since the Americans ‘liberated’ Iraq?
We get back to my hotel and see ‘some building… some construction…’ We watch workers building a new accommodation block. We discover it is for private Iraqi security guards. “Good news that Iraqi’s are finally being employed” Samir remarks, “They will make the best security here.” They are being hand picked from the West of Iraq, mainly Sunni’s from Tikrit and Ramadi. They are all ex Captains and Officers, they are coming here to look after the many Western companies with their construction contracts to rebuild Iraq.
“Look this is a dream come true for them. $800 a month, a place to sleep and the best food. Under Saddam they were paid $3 a month, and many haven’t worked since then.” I’m not so sure about the nature of the work though, “Think of the risk, they could be killed at anytime” I point out. Samir smiles, “This is why we are the best security guards in the world, Iraqi’s believe that their time is written by God, so they walk fearless.”
And at $800 a month they are good value. Their Western counterparts charge $800 a day.