Something Has Changed in Baghdad

By Tom Johnson

Dec 12, 2008 6:21pm

The personal observations of Iraqi journalist Ali Al-Mashakheel:

It started out like any other commute. Journalist Ali Al-Mashakheel climbed into a taxi and began winding his way through the streets of Baghdad to the office. All of a sudden, an American military convoy turned into the street ahead of him.

Anyone who has encountered an American convoy in Iraq has seen the forbidding warnings plastered onto their armored vehicles in English and Arabic blaring "KEEP BACK." Often, they have been accompanied by a gunner furiously gesturing with his arms and shaking his head as if to say, "Don’t even think about coming within 100 yards of us."

So you can imagine Ali’s surprise today when an American soldier waved at his taxi driver to drive right on past the convoy, within a few feet of them. Ali was even more astonished to hear that the same thing had happened to his taxi driver a number of times over the past few weeks. Then Ali looked around him and noticed that the city’s streets were jammed with Iraqis celebrating the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

Something has changed in Baghdad. "For me," Ali said, "it is a signal from both the Iraqis and the Americans that they are trying to overcome the past and move ahead with more confidence in the future. I think it is a step forward and we are trying to see life as it should be."   

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