THE OLD BRIDGE ON TIGRIS NARRATES THE STORY OF MOSUL

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The oldest bridge in the town which linking the west bank with the east bank on Tigris. The bridge said to be the oldest in Mosul, followed by the other four main bridges which have been recently bombed.

The iron bridge is what locals call (The old man and the Tigris) in reference to the American novel (the old man and the sea). The bridge has witnessed all the modern history phases in Mosul, started from 1933 where it was built, during the era of the British invasion to Iraq, up to now. The old bridge remembers, all the massacres and the prosperity that Mosul has experienced, throughout the last decades.

Al Shawaf uprising against the the dictatorship of Abd Al Karim Qasim 1959.
It was military coup led by the Gen Abd Al wahhab Al Shawaf. But unfortunately, Mosul uprising didn’t achieve its goals. It was brutally cracked down by the Communist regime. Many solders in Mosul were executed without even a trial, while the heads of the uprising were sentenced to death publicly. The warplanes have triggered debris that could be observed nowadays, obviously in Al Quzlani police station, south west Mosul, the stronghold of the rebelling Mosuli Gen. Every military clothing person was considered as target for the communists troops.

The old bridge also remembers, the flourishing Iraq of the seventies, where education , health care, social services and other fundamentals had ranked the highest level in Iraq history. It probably was the calmness that precedes the storm! Soon, the long term years war was to begin with neighboring Iran, 1980 to 1988.

Two conflicting regimes arrived to the power in Iraq, represented by Baath party and in Iran represented by the Islamic revolution. Here, Saddam claimed that he tended to stop the Islamic revolution extension to southern Iraq. But Iranian leaders had another view. The war had lasted 8 years. Million of both sides have been reportedly killed during that war.

The bridge reminds very good, the celebrations and rejoice that filled the city of Mosul post the 8 years. As kind of victory through Saddam’s lens, But for Iraqis it was the ending of the bloodshed.

The peace didn’t live long, as the Gulf war blasted into long term international embargo in Iraq ,known for Iraqis as the siege that had lasted from 1991 until 2003, where American led invasion managed of toppling Saddam.
Mosul has witnessed a kind of prosperity for less than one year, where the markets were filled by the foreign goods.
But, later, as result of the open borders, the Islamic extremists found their way to Iraq and to Mosul, particularly, got an advantage of the absence of a strong power that maintains the nation safe.

As well as, it has been a religious inciting against the invaders. The Islamic organizations have found in northern west Iraq a fertile ground in which they grew their seeds of hatred that would bloom later as thorns called ISIS.

The discrimination course used by the Iraqi government between 2005 and 2014 in Mosul has played a big role in expanding the general anger against the Shia led government that arrests thousands of innocents on charges of being linked to terrorism. Meanwhile the real terrorists are released on bribe taken by Iraqi army officers.

In 2004, the terrorism form of Al Qaeda managed to control more than 6 the police stations in the city of Mosul in a major turmoil known later, The year of falling of police stations. American troops before their withdrawal in 2011, have prevented the first terrorist invasion that could’ve killed the city, since then. But always terrorism finds a way to interfere among innocents, achieving its dirty goals through the car bombs and assassination plots that harvested the best journalists such as Wathiq Al Qathanfari and other brilliant batch of truth seekers. The highest number of killing journalists in Iraq was in Mosul, where Mosul alone, had buried about 50 journalists until 2014.

Many lawyers and professors, security personnel have been outrageously assassinated nearby their doorsteps and their work places. Others, on the sight of their family, terrorism had got into their homes, such as the journalist Qazwan Anass. his wife was injured, while his infant was shocked.

The weak role of the security forces, the corruptions and the persecution of the simple locals, they all contributed in enlarging the gap between the central government and the Mosuli people, resulted in handing over the city with the two its million humans on their diversity, to the forthcoming power, which is called ISIS that seemed its role is to devastate the city and killing its locals while nearly a million of Mosul inhabitants were displaced.

THE APOCALYPSE IN MOSUL, IN JUNE 10, 2014, AND THE CHARGES POINT OUT THE MILITARY COMMANDERS AND THE PRIME MINISTER WHO ARE STILL AT LARGE

In the beginning, it was a peaceful demonstration calling for the reform. But later, the demonstration leaders fled in seeking for a safe refuge, and the cities were handed to the new invaders!

In 2011, the Sunni Iraqi cities staged demonstrations against corruption and discrimination. The unprecedented protests engulfed the major Iraqi cities inhabited by Sunnis. The demonstrations lasted nearly three years. The government led by the prime minster Nuri Al Maliki of religious party background had described the protest as nasty bubble like, and they should stop it,otherwise they would be stopped by force. He said

The government found a way of inserting the poison into the legal demonstrations. So, the prisoners that had escaped from Abu Qraib jail, found their route into the unarmed crowds at the protest squares. It was a sort of the legal excuse for pressing on the nation to see that government should be using power to cracking down the demonstration.

In Kirkuk province, SWAT forces opened fire on peaceful protesters, while in Ramadi province, the leaders were arrested then atrocities followed .

No way for any step backward. The peaceful demonstrations now, are no longer peaceful, and the escaping criminals have stolen the microphone from those who called, one day, for the reform and justice to be done in the country. Those were kicked out of the squares.

In that very moment, Mosul was passing through the biggest wave of the violence and the terrorist offensive has turned the city off. It was the beginning of the event that would change later, the course of history in Mosul. Although that the likely scenario of falling which was more realistic that ever before, but Baghdad government didn’t respond seriously to the potential danger that Mosul might expose, according to the former governor in Mosul.

The former Governor of Mosul, Atheel Al Nujaifi whom relation with the central government in Baghdad and the military leaders in Mosul was complicated. Al Nujaifi published documents proven that he had warned the central government from the potential danger of a likely raid of what so called the Islamic state but his early alarm never heard in Baghdad.

Al Nujaifi also revealed that the day before Mosul was fallen, he conducted urgent meeting with the military commanders linked to the Iraqi prime minster. The governor highly recommended the military commanders to get fully prepared to face the radical power that was marching western Mosul to kidnap the town. He said that the military commanders weren’t serious enough about what it could be happen. They had claimed that they were ready to any kind of threat.

Meanwhile, ISIS elements were heading towards Mosul. They were about 300 fighters only. They did not plan to colonize Mosul. The city which controlled by three Iraqi military divisions, which made the idea of facing them as deadly attempt or a slow suicide attack. But, what happened that the Iraqi first front line western Mosul collapsed so quickly. The members of local police, bravely fought but they didn’t have enough ammunition and heavy guns.

A bomb truck sent by ISIS was enough to change everything, witnesses said. Mosul local police commander had been wounded, while the other members just fled. Surprisingly that the local police has resisted in the battle, despite of their being the weakest party among the Iraqi forces being sent from Baghdad. But, the collapse of the others what supposed to be the well equipped forces. It is what shocked many Iraqis. Witnesses said that after bomb truck, the course of the battle has been totally changed in favor of ISIS, in that very moment, the military leaders have disappeared, and the three military divisions have been evaporated. It was the night of 9 June 2014.

Witnesses said that ISIS cars were roaming the town’s streets back and forth, calling on local people to calm down. People didn’t have clear vision of who were really they.. Were they those who called for reform or Bath party supporters in a religious version or they were really the Islamic state that was founded in Syria, a year ago!

People scared from the idea that Mosul could be soon a battlefield between the conflicting regional powers. Next morning, it was the time that almost every family in Mosul to be displaced to the regions hadn’t been yet conquered by ISIS, in Niniwa plain, where it is the historical home of ethnic diversity. But soon, they returned to Mosul, when it was the silence the sole master of the situation, that time.

The biggest challenge is yet to come, Mosulis say

The last bridge that has been bombed in Mosul

The last bridge that has been bombed in Mosul

Traffic jam at the gate of the old iron bridge which was built by British troops in 40s

Traffic jam at the gate of the old iron bridge which was built by British troops in 40s

The Iron bridge by the lens of Ahmed Alhayali.

The Iron bridge by the lens of Ahmed Alhayali.

Traffic jam, difficult mobility and major lack in aids, as four main bridges have lately been bombarded. Only the old iron bridge which was first bridge to be built in Mosul during the 40s of the last century, still standing. It is the last remained facility that links the west bank to the eastern part of the city, where the battles to central Mosul have swept out a large territory from the grip of what so called the Islamic state. Three main hospitals have been totally disabled due to the shortage of medical support, electricity and gaz needed for heating. It is also reported, that the prices of nutrition items inflated. In Mosul, where it is not been easy to see a truck, without targeting it by the air force.

There is also a remaining concern , whether the offensive troops got to reach Mosul from the south west Mosul, how the locals would flee to the liberated eastern part!

In Mosul, the biggest majority inhabiting is in the west part of the city, where the everyday life hasn’t been significantly changed yet. Life in central Mosul tends to be as it is, still. Markets are crowded with those who rushed to buy the food and dry fruits, for storing it, as the battle is getting closer, day by day.

The city which is inhabited by 1.5 million, makes the progress of battle slower as a bid of avoiding causalities from civilians. Although, the high concern, but the UN warns from likely disaster.

The old town in Mosul, where door to door and house to house in the alleyways that seem to be more fragile than ever, to resist the explosions and the shells, in case the battle creeps towards the heart of Mosul, it seems to be the biggest challenge for the security forces to pick out ISIS fighters hidden among the civilians.

ISIS uses the dense population as human shields . As they do in the ongoing battles eastern Mosul. ISIS has previously forced residents in the nearby villages to evacuate their homes, and taken them to Mosul for the next phase of the battle. Thousands of families were displaced to schools and their relatives houses in Mosul.

Alleyways in Mosul old town that stands on west bank of Tigris

Alleyways in Mosul old town that stands on west bank of Tigris

Shocking video was also recently published, emerges the shortage of nutrition aids in the displacement zones, while the battle to Mosul going on, for retaking the city of 1.5 million from the death fist. district by district, up to the central west bank, where the density of population puts the humanitarian situation on the critical edge. It’s expected that the biggest marching of locals would flee the town as the battle creeps to their neighborhoods.

Shortage of aids in the displacement areas

Shortage of aids in the displacement areas

Fears inside Mosul concerning the forthcoming battles that could trigger the biggest humanitarian crisis, in the midst of the current tough conditions which the displaced people are suffering from. Shocking images have been recently floated to public, emerging families that shivering from the coldness. The family has dug what seemed to be grave like but it was not. The family went down in it. In this method, they tend to face the coldness where the temperature goes to zero below.

Iraqis can held rallies and biggest banquet in the world for the religious atmospheres, but the displaced families in Iraq struggle for bottle of water given by UN

In the time when rest of Iraqis from Baghdad and other southern cities celebrate in the anniversary of the massacre happened to Al Hussein. They spend millions of dollars to provide the free given food made of meat and rice in voluntary stalls, to the visitors. The enormous money spent in what so called ” Hussein fest” would be enough to cover all the Iraqis who were internally displaced. But the truth is that there is no solidarity between Shias and Sunnis at all according to what we have experienced.

THE CHARACTER THAT TERRIFIES ISIS THE MOST IN MOSUL AS THE WARPLANES DO

The character M is the excuse that ISIS claim in harvesting the suspected Mosuli local people that being accused of having a link with the liberator troops, in time that Islamic state sacrifices in fighting against the world for Muslims sake as they have claimed in the latest video been issued recently, showed 12 guys in orange clothing confessing that they have written this character on the walls and passed information identify ISIS sites to the Iraqi troops to be bombarded later.
Then the 12 victims have been taken to the place where they wrote the letter to be killed by marking on their heads then shot to head in one of the most brutal death images.

ISIS shoots to death one of the guys were accused of writing M

ISIS shoots to death one of the guys were accused of writing M

This character refers to the Arabic word ( Mukawamha ) means in English rebel or resistance, which terrifies ISIS the most according to the witness from Mosul that he told Mosul In English ” ISIS have told us over and over that they worry from the (hypocrites) inside the Islamic state rather than the Iraqi troops” as they described ” ISIS say that the hypocrites are the eyes of infidels , otherwise the infidels troops are blind” he added .
He says that ISIS has tightened the rules on internet use then prevented it.

”Anybody captured having a SIM card, might be accused of giving information to the Iraqi troops. People use the internet so secretly in conducting connections with the outer world, but we are still very careful in charging our social media passwords from time to time and never publishing any material or making an action that can lead to us” he said

DISPLACED IN KIRKUK FACE DISCRIMINATION

The displaced people from Mosul to Kirkuk which has recently witnessed an offensive carried out by group of ISIS fighters, convicts the Peoples of Mosul there of being linked to ISIS. Social media brought the story early on morning. Meanwhile some pages have alleged that governor of Kirkuk ordered that all displaced Arabs shall immediately quit while another pages denied the claim.

On Friday, ISIS attacked some western neighborhoods in a despaired attempt to scatter the pressure of offensive troops to retake Mosul. The troops in Kirkuk have broken the plan and griped the situation again. The ISIS fighters attacked the city in their uniform clothing and long beard. It can refer that the fighters have sneaked into city .

Punished on ISIS crimes

Despite the alarming that amnesty rang on 18th of October, issued 70 pages report condemns the illegal acts carried by the Iraqi forces and Shias militias against the displaced Sunnis who fled their towns controlled by ISIS to what so called a safe spots in the Iraq, face improper behaviors from the Iraqi authorities that might be reached to execution for unproved charges as the report shows.
Amnesty warned the Iraqi government and asserted that these acts should be happened again.

The innocent Mosulis who fled the violence to neighboring Kirkuk were given a deadline to evacuate the city , otherwise they face consequences.
The official Kurdish army and backed groups by autonomous government, reportedly informed the displaced people to leave the city according to witnesses.

INSIDER MOSUL

1. ISIS is weak and don’t believe the last film that emerges ISIS as the sole controller.

2. The air strikes are ongoing and very accurate as much as possible to avoid causing any damage for civilians.

3. The left bank or the east part of Mosul is semi empty from ISIS members that grip the people

4. The west bank in Mosul is where ISIS still conduct their silly activities in order to show Mosuli that Islamic state is still strong.

5. Despite the losses that ISIS lost the vast territory in Iraq but they’re still telling the locals that they have taken Kirkuk and Qayarraha, and this is the biggest lies because people in Mosul understand that very well

6. In western part of Mosul , ISIS started to use women , the wives of the fighters in order to show that their spouses are in the battle arena and their women are in there to control the coward men that chose to sit at homes .

Between Mosul and Turku

Ahmed came to Finland as seeker asylum in September 2015

Ahmed came to Finland as seeker asylum in September 2015

In Turku marketplace 2016

In Turku marketplace 2016

Still dreams of better life...

Still dreams of better life…

Photo shows Ahmed in Mosul technical institute 2008.

Photo shows Ahmed in Mosul technical institute 2008.

 Ahmed came to Finland as seeker asylum in September 2015


Ahmed came to Finland as an asylum seeker in September 2015

The story written by Ahmed Zaidan based on the interview with Ahmed Mahmood
• Ahmed Mahmood was born in Mosul in 1986.
• He was graduated from the technical institute of Mosul 2011 with high degree.
• He was qualified to study engineering in Baghdad technical university.
• He chose a specialist of less degree in Mosul rather than going to Baghdad because he has no relatives
there and for fear of the sectarian tension.
• He fled Mosul post ISIS had captured the city.
• He arrived Finland in September 2015. as asylum seeker. post 17 hours train trip from Stockholm to Kemi • Ahmed ended up in Turku refugee camp, waited for more than a year before he got rejected by Finnish immigration office. He was informed that he can live in Baghdad.

Between Mosul and Turku

Of the most dangerous spot in the history and the home of peace. Here in the south west Finland, where the first capital is in front of the sea that leads to the rest of the world. where the stories travel back and forth, Ahmed stands on the memories coast, narrating his tale…

I still remember, back in the summer of 2015, how Finland as a host country floated to the surface. I was impressed and fascinated to see in the news that the Finnish prime minister Juha Sipilä had opened his house to the Iraqi family that escaped from the hell in Iraq. I also remember the good reputation that Finland has in the human rights field and the friends talking about Finland that welcomes us. As well as the Facebook pages and groups based in Finland which have shown me that there was no obstacle to go there and get my papers done as long as I have no other safe refuge. The calls and appeals launched by Finnish activists to open the borders before everybody needed, I was eager to hear all that. These stories have illuminated me to find my way to this country.

Media also has played a big role in creating my choice that Finland might be the right place for a man who had sneaked from the most dangerous city in the world, in bid of holding on the air of the peace. I left behind me 4000 km, the distance which I decided to put between my hometown Mosul and the new homeland Finland . The humanitarian initiatives in Finland have been always seducing the vulnerable human in me that was in need to be warmly embraced by such kind hosts that say ” Welcome to your safe refuge!” Safe refuge, a roof that protects me from the rain as in Mosul no roof could stop the bombs fall.

The amount of welcoming influx from Finland didn’t make me think for a moment that the dream of living in a safe home would be a nightmare, chases me throughout the two years. I lived the horrific days, post the disaster in Mosul, taken place by mid of June 2014. When we had woken up at that unforgettable morning in Mosul, we saw the hidden terrorists unveiled their faces publicly. They were deployed in the streets instead of the Iraqi forces, that escaped without even fighting. We had no chance only to leave our house to the suburbs, for fear of the unknown. Yes, it was our first time to be displaced, followed ISIS capturing Mosul. But quickly, we returned as we are in Mosul, have our own world unlike rest of Iraq. Mosul is a city that relies on itself in everything and it has its customs and dialect. And that is why our boundaries is the borders of our city. The black map had been enlarging quicker than our escape even.

ISIS keens on promoting themselves through uploading high quality videos to the public .Their initial message they wanted to convey from Mosul was to show the world how they were warmly welcomed in Mosul. It was too easy for ISIS to film the first video that shows Mosul from their prospective. It was easier to bring certain number of pro the Islamic state people greeting the ISIS cars at their first military inspection hold in Mosul. They have claimed that all the people in Mosul had been waiting that Iraqi army to fall down for the Islamic state to be held. How come! Mosul is the most secular city in Iraq! True, that we have had a poor relation with the Iraqi forces who raised the religious banners that reflect their sectarian trend. Insulted the Mosuli locals for being Sunnis. but we are the Mosuli people, didn’t think a day to ruin Yunnan prophet mosque nor sweeping out the debris of the Assyrian civilization. That was what ISIS did. We are the city of the first musicians in middle east and the hometown of the rare Arabic manuscripts, sadly to tell you that all libraries have been burnt in Mosul during ISIS era.
Mosul could’ve killed its churches since centuries, but the true is that you can see the best image of coexistence in the same neighbouringhood, where the churches and the mosques have lived together for centuries. This is the long term peace is actually the core of being Mosuli

ISIS slaughter locals of Mosul for their previous job, despite the repentance .

ISIS slaughter locals of Mosul for their previous job, despite the repentance .

Mosul is the hometown for Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Turkmans and Yazidis. But then, ISIS has grabbed the city, driven it out from its original peaceful people. The truth was rigged. And more than a million were displaced from Mosul, while 1,5 million are still detained in there. Hundreds of  thousands have reportedly been killed and buried in vast natural holes, southern Mosul, known “Al Kafsah” some thing like cracking in the earth crust.

 Photo emerges what is known for Mousli locals ( Al Kafsah) unknown source.

Photo emerges what is known for Mousli locals ( Al Kafsah) unknown source.

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ISIS devastated the pair of the winged bulls that date back to nearly 3000 years .

ISIS devastated the pair of the winged bulls that date back to nearly 3000 years .

I am one of thousands in Iraq but my status that I am Mosuli whom guilt that he didn’t defend his town against ISIS. I still ignore if I should’ve defended the Iraqi troops who had fled faster then the time I would need to get the kitchen. Yes the kitchen is our weapon’s store in Mosul, and we do have sharp knifes and forks, as well as long “Shiish of Kababs”.
Actually, We handed over the last weapon we had to the  Iraqi forces during their searching campaigns, house to houses. They said “Trust us! We are here to protect you”… Then, we believed their claim. It was very simple and legal, but they had escaped, left us a meal for the savage eagle.
In case if we found our ways to what suppose to be the capital of our country, or what said to be a safe part of the country, we need to pass through too many phases that insult our citizenship. Any violence might be happened there, we would be accused of being terrorists as the poor displaced people were always convicted of terrorism. What the unfair prospective is that! We have fled the terrorism. We also need a sponsor who would guarantee and give a recommendation in case we have thought of living in Baghdad. Even though, if we would have managed to be there which seems more difficult than marching to Turkey, we would be restricted to find an escape goat who approves his name gets registered in the files Iraqi security forces. On other hand, no one could guarantee the local abuses or militias outrageous violations being carried against the Sunnis from happening. Yes, Iraq is safe for some people but not for us.

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Mosul wasn’t safe a day to stay in. Mosul before collapsing was chocked by the Iraqi forces who mostly being sent from the southern cities. The leadership of the Iraqi forces up to the former prime minster of ALdawa party, based in Iran during the eighties of the last century.
Even though the existence of the enormous troops, it couldn’t prevent the assassination operations that had been harvesting many journalists, teachers, lawyers and governmental personnels.
Every profession is a potential target for the hidden terrorism that time, except those who work in the vegetables stores or of the manual labors. Yes, they might be a bit safer, but still they might be killed by bomb cars which do not ask for permission.

Despite the fact of my being in Finland but the nightmare still chasing me, That in any time, I could be deported back to the same place. The place which I was ready to lose my life for sake of fleeing it, as there was still glimmer if I could’ve won the new life rather than definitely losing and letting it go because of my previous job perhaps or my ethnic descent.
Do you see my friend! I needed the job in order to live in my city, but I have no thing to do with the fact of where do I come from!
I am imprisoned between two mad powers that fights against each other. Both of them see me according to their nature and agendas. They see me through their own lens, which is mostly dirty with hatred. They gaze me as if I were a prey.
For ISIS, I am that infidels who worked in high committee of election in the past. For Shi’a militias, I am that Sunni, of a descendant of that man who had stolen the leadership from Ali before 1400 years, and then let ISIS in to his town, accusing the simple locals, regardless to the giant army that had escaped.

Tigris river splitting city of Mosul from Al-Hurria bridge which has been bombarded for three times. Now it is out of use. Photo taken by Ahmed Zaidan in 2012 .

Tigris river splitting city of Mosul from Al-Hurria bridge which has been bombarded for three times. Now it is out of use. Photo taken by Ahmed Zaidan in 2012 .

I have already said this, Punished on Daesh`s crimes… Daesh is the Arabic name of ISIS .. Yes, my friend, it is very true today more than ever. It is no longer only a talk but on18th October Amnesty international pressed the hot buttons, breaking the silence in launching the latest report of 70 pages showing the atrocities and abuses carried out by militias and government forces agaisnt internal displaced Sunni Arabs who fled their cities being liberated from ISIS grip.
The report exposes literally the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk mass violations as the military operation to recapture IS-held city of Mosul gets underway.
On18 October Independent newspaper highlighted the report of amnesty. Also, Washington Post, on October 24 also published an article entitled with “As Iraqis flee the Islamic State, celebrations dampened by fears of revenge”.
Even though that revenge deeds aren`t new in Iraq but however I hereby that these crimes carried out by Shi’a militias is not far fetched to targeting me as a victim.
Daily Mail newspaper has published the story of children from Mosul being humiliated by Iraqi forces. The children were bitten by hummer on heads, accused of being ISIS.

How to return to Iraq and how to live in Baghdad, where the militias are the sole dominator. I can not choose to go to where I could be kidnapped. My corpse will be found later in Baghdad streets. Killed with torture traces.
Yes, my friend , the innocent victim that walked on feet to the certain death. Never seen the lamb running towards the butcher at all. So how come, they want me to live in Baghdad, where ISIS wears the formal uniform that waits to achieve another victory against those whom lives were on the edge of hell in their city that were handed over to ISIS.
Yes, my friend I mean every word I say.

In the summer of 2015. I was in Turkey with my brother who shared my trouble. We are both in such spot of the earth. The exile that pushed me towards one direction, not another, it is that to go forward. To overcome my fears of crossing the sea. There is always something stronger than our fears. It is clutching the glim of life, when we are surrounded by despair from every sides. When death and life both are paralleled, side to side , only a slim line splits them, called the last attempt. I did my last attempt. Many times we had to change our position for fear of the coast guards. We scurried up to the boats without any certainty that we would be safe, just to run away in bid of finding the safe home

My story of escape started when ISIS was looking for the former employees who ever worked to the high committee of election in Iraq. I witnessed that they started to arrest my colleagues. They exuded them. I knew that it was only a matter of time before ISIS would find my name. I was sure of that vibe, because ISIS had captured all the files in my previous workplace. I managed to conduct a contact with my friend who recently fled to Turkey. He recommended a Syrian smuggler to me. The great challenging was how to sneak secretly from my place to where the smuggler would pick me. I didn’t tell anybody except one brother. I carried a sport bag so that not to give any vibe to the taxi driver that I was going to escape. I didn’t carry any identification documents in order to avoid any likely ISIS check points. At nearly 12 pm. I became at the square, western Mosul, where the goods from Syria come and go. The smuggler told me that the afternoon time is the best for such adventures, because there is no that density of ISIS checkpoints. The smuggler has drained out the goods he brought from Syria. He would transport sugar from Mosul to Syria. I was in his van as a driver assistant so I had to talk in syrian dialect that no one can recognize my Mosuli tongue.
In that very moments, ISIS issued an order that locals of the capital of Islamic state Mosul are not allowed to leave, unless they have a formal permit or a medical report issued by the hospital.
By the evening we entered the Syrian soil. Yes, the trip was longer than usual due to the driver avoiding the dangerous spots such as the front with the Kurdish troops or the important checkpoints of ISIS that check the names carefully. But our trip within the territory of what so called the Islamic state, went successfully in Iraq.

We are now at the countryside of Al Hasaka. Then Al Musurha up to the most dangerous zone, Al Reqqah, It is the second most important stronghold for ISIS. The place where mainly ISIS was based first time. Before getting there, we had stopped in a restaurant called Al Nakiil, where the smugglers usually meet and exchange the deals. It was the time of ending the task of the smuggler who brought me from Iraq. He handled me over to another smuggler whom task was to transport me until the Turkish border. We couldn’t pass through Tall Abied district for its being a disputing area between ISIS and the Syrian free army. We had to chose the farthest routes as it was farthest of troubles as well. We passed by northern Aleppo in nearly four hours trip. We successfully managed to get the last stop which was a village of Turkmans, close to the borders with Turkey. It was a small house or dom or whatever, But what I remember that when I was cramped into the house, I saw other people that were willing to escape as well. We were fourteen individuals, including the two Syrian families. They were all from Syria.

By the midnight, our final journey on Syrian soil was to begin. We were all in the van. Crowded horizontally for fear or the reflected lights. The van had moved until arrived a jungle of olive trees. It was the last spot of Syrian territory. The borders was visible to our eyes. Only a railway then barbed wires and small trench, seemed for us as an easy ending of our hard journey. But, we hadn’t known that we would need the smuggler more then ever in order to guide us the right routes. The wrong step means definite death. Yes, the railway was filled with mines. Only the smugglers know where we should put our feet on. But still we had to wait for the borders guards exchange the duty. The tiny vacuum of the Turkish border guards absence, we would use it to running quickly towards the Turkish side. We have become in the first Village in Turkey. Where the garage was. We would take the first car headed to the city. Yes, now we are safe. I went with the Syrian guys who accompanied me in journey. I stayed at their fiends apartment. The first think that I had thought of while I arrived the apartment, was how to lie on the bed. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t think of eating or doing anything else. I slept deeply, I couldn’t believe that I had passed all these dangerous phases. Any gag or lapse was enough to end up my life, brutally.

When I have woken up. The first think I thought about was how to recharge my phone and let my family know that I am fine. I took a shower, then ate. I went to the bus station in order to take the bus that heads to Ankara, where my brother lives. After nine hours trip, I finally met my brother eagerly. My brother fled Mosul earlier. He is married and lives with his family in Turkey. He accommodated me for eleven months.

The idea of crossing to Europe came after I had felt that I am wasted in Turkey without any kind of documents and my stored money was about to run out. Day by day, the despair was grabbing me. The growing pressure tossed me away at the coast of the last attempt. I said to myself that even in case I would be drowned I am a martyrs, then. As I was fighting for any normal life.

Beyond the purple line – by Ahmed Zaidan

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By: Ahmed Zaidan

On the stage in an international festival, I am performing my poems…

Oh that was years ago, when I have had last poetry reading in Mosul, the most dangerous city in Iraq 2012 as I remember. The security situation escalated and the bombs have shut down the voice of all birds that sing for freedom, the story of poetry has ended in that area.
The biggest case for the bird who can not sing any more is to take off and soar in the heavens, searching for any green land that welcomes the nightingale, that weaves the shirt of songs, coloured with melodies, for the horizon to wear the dress of freedom…

As I have landed in midst of the snow and darkness, the silence wrapped me. As the newborn baby, catches the thumb of his mother in order to hold on his previous world, for fear of the unknown scenes. Like that I hang on the wall of memories as any weak nail tightens old portraits, that not to fall, because there are what gives me what every single human should have, I absorb from the memories what plant absorbs from daylight.

I walked in heavy steps onto the snow, turned all my energy towards my feet to keep going forward in wavering steps and carefully, so as not slip to the wrong slop. I ignited my humble knowledge of the past with the useful tips from here and there in a bid to slit the darkness. The language was the first candle I have ignited. Then, the faces has motioned slowly and became familiar to me. It is the English language which I found it easier to communicate but it is not a big deal, because the function of the language is to bridge the caps and reduce the question marks.

Oh god! A new language I shall learn after I have spent half of my life in learning English and I couldn’t master even half of it yet. The language is a vast ocean as my professor of linguistic said.
Oh again! I have read too much Arabic literature until the Arabic poems have gushed from my fingers, drowned the papers. I left mess of drafts and papers when I had to flee my first home. No doubt they have become a worthy material of reminding the absent son for her. It’s my mother in there, visits my room and spends the hours in solving the codes of my first margins…After three years of her travelling in papers, she is just passing through my second phase of writing. She is still at the edge of beginning. The core of my writing’s galaxy is yet to come. For her, orbiting around the simple forms of my old poems, it is all my poetry universe, as she knows me well.

More than two thousand miles split me from my favourite jasmine, there in the corner near to the lemon tree. There have been a world, another vital world, that’s more extended into soul. There have been a noise and everyday life with a clock on the wall, declares the time when my father that washed by sun, comes, carrying some bags of the summer fruits and a new story from the town. There have been brothers and sisters return from the schools chanting some of their silly school lessons they have recently learned. Another one is silent doing the repeated school punishment!
Yes, a lot of affairs, I have left behind and I disappeared as a bird floats in the clouds then drowns to depths!

I sit today, staring the farthest horizon, where the objects fades away of the sight. There, if you look with me, beyond the purple line, my beloved are; doing the things which are still stuck in memory, occurring the same noise, that breaks the silence of my loneliness in exile. They are in wait for the clock bell on the wall to declare, when the father will be coming again, carrying the his sadness and showing strength. And pupils from schools.
If there are schools. There are another stories to be told to those children who have grown up and didn’t wetness my presence among them. There is also a mother who no longer get pleased by the flowers of the spring. sat in wait of her absent sons to return, stares the same purple line what I am staring at the moment! Saying that beyond the purple line, there is a son who’s gone by the storm and thrown to the farthest north, where all the nights come from. when I look at the purple line, I see her tears are reflected, mixed with the sad sunset. Unfortunately, she can not see all that because of the fume of wars overshadowed the scenes in Mosul.

“Thank You” For The Goodwill – by Bahaulddin Rawi

Photo: Montaser Jaduo

Photo: Montaser Jaduo

Written by Bahaulddin Rawi

No more Goodwill … No more Saviors … No more similar words like these … We lost our beloved Homeland under these deceived words since 2003 until this second of the minute when we later discovered the beginning was not the same as the end …

As I remember we’ve been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We may be, like many Iraqis, the so-called classic refugees, the ones with only the clothes on their backs, honestly no choice and also we chose to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare – stay and wait and try to survive.

Can I bring along a stuffed present I’ve had since the age of five? What clothes do I take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books?

On the one hand, I know that leaving the Homeland and starting a new life somewhere else – as yet unknown – is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives when we don’t have the time to discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind (aching and funny). Can I bring along a stuffed present I’ve had since the age of five? What clothes do I take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books?

The disaster (yes I call it disaster) is that we don’t even know if we’ll ever see these things again. We don’t know if whatever we leave, including home, will be available if we come back (it is destroyed now). There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your Homeland, simply because an idiot got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive, feel safe and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends … to what?

It’s really difficult to decide which is more frightening: car bombs, ISIS, a variety of sectarian militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain and promised.

It’s really difficult to decide which is more frightening: car bombs, ISIS, a variety of sectarian militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain and promised. Nothing is nice like before in Iraq, for example if we mention the “rights of woman” – oh sorry, it is just a motto. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets, that time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too. There are just too many risks for the Iraqi woman. There is the risk of being shunned socially and the risk of beginning an endless chain of retaliations, honor killings and revenge killings between tribes. There is the shame of coming out publicly and talking about a subject so taboo, it is not only risking the woman’s reputation, but risking her life too.

Generally, life is not normal after the 9th of April 2003 and was not normal even before; the issue is only that the people had revolted then died in secret, but now they die in public during the daylight

Generally, life is not normal after the 9th of April 2003 and was not normal even before; the issue is only that the people had revolted then died in secret, but now they die in public during the daylight and in front of hypocrite racist TV channels, and on top of that the slaughterhouses waterwheels are still spinning then supplying Euphrates and Tigris with as much blood as needed to irrigate farms and orchards. We were dying as a result of religious slogans and other revolutions behind the walls of the intelligence service, and we are now dying in front of each other and seeing the slaughter machete harvest us in public roads and in every inch of the city.

And yet, as the situation continues to spoil the lives both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, it is really funny that “americans” in “america” are still debating the state of the war and invasion 2003 – are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse?

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, “american-trained monkeys”. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures (https://www.theguardian.com/gall/0,8542,1211872,00.html) came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had so I am sorry, no more “let’s make america great again”, or … maybe you are right, you should, but you should think too in which sense “america” was great? And when? Heartily, I hope the oil or the destruction of Our Mesopotamia at least made your reputation and dignity worthwhile.

The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

Thereafter, I can say the “cannibal american soldiers” have done a fine job of working to break Iraq apart. 2016 has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

The question now is, but for God’s sake why? I really have been asking myself a thousand times. What does “america” possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I’m sure only raving idiots still believe this war and invasion were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam, oh no, or maybe to give us the barbaric freedom and democracy.

Last year (2015) especially, has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost “so much”. There’s no way to describe the loss we’ve experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 80 cadaver are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense and black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculousness like whether your name is ‘too Sunni’ or ‘too Shia’, as a concept /conflict we didn’t have it before 2003 anymore. Fear of the police patrolling your area in black uniform and green banners then the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can’t help but ask myself why all of this was done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair?

Again, I can’t help but ask myself why all of this was done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer as Obama declared and I painfully agree with him after seeing its presence in Iraq is so well established. I wonder, has the situation gone so beyond “america” that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Moderate Shiite and Sunnis are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Sunni leaving Shiite areas and Shiite leaving Sunni areas – some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at checkpoints or in drive by killings. At the end most of them are here escaping from Iraq trying to survive far away from danger.

Then they come to tell you it is all about ISIS Groups, but please who are they? Why are they destroying the Muslim mosques? Why are they destroying the Churches? Why was not ISIS there before 11th of September 2001?

How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what’s being done about it? Nothing. It’s convenient for them – Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape. Then they come to tell you it is all about ISIS Groups, but please who are they? Why are they destroying the Muslim mosques? Why are they destroying the Churches? Why was not ISIS there before 11th of September 2001?

As my media colleague once tweeted: Where does one go to avoid the death and destruction? Are the “americans” happy with this progress? Does “the black house” still insist we’re progressing in a bloody 2016?

Life in Iraq has become unbearable because it’s not a ‘life’ like people live abroad. It’s simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in one piece and coping with the loss of friends and loved ones- loved ones like my two brothers.

It’s difficult to believe my two brothers are really gone … I was checking my memory today and I remembered many beautiful words they told me. For one wild, heart-stopping moment I thought they were alive. They were alive and it was all some horrific mistake! I let myself ride the wave of giddy disbelief for a few precious seconds before I came crashing down as my eyes caught the words and jokes they had said them to me. I am dying a thousand times when I read a poem by one of my brothers in Arabic about Iraq under “american occupation 2003”. He had highlighted a few lines describing the beauty of the capital (Baghdad) in spite of the war, while I always thought Baghdad was one of the most marvelous cities in the world, I’m finding it very difficult at this moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of my brother and so many other innocents.

You know, during the time of leaving Iraq, many of the ‘goodbyes’ were said stoically- almost casually – with a fake smile plastered on the face and the words “see you soon” … Only to walk out the door and want to collapse with the burden of parting with yet another loved one.

After all, it’s difficult to believe even now that I sit here and write these words and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions

After all, it’s difficult to believe even now that I sit here and write these words and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions, I wonder how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead and how the streets are free of militias and death squads. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break the door and havoc our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets also free of roadblocks and the rest.

For those who have been asking about the Iraqi situation now and wondering how it has been doing after the whole destruction while they hear we lost everything, I would say if the world was empty of good people, it would end, and be sure that we are still strong and our Goodwill is totally different from all, yes all … Ours is like a rose, which gives the fragrance even to those who crush it.

The night happens to me at the brightest mornings

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By Ahmed Zaidan

The night happens to me at the brightest mornings
The night happens to me when It is already noon
The night engulfs me whenever I mention the sun
The night happens but despite all the nights that happen to me
I still enjoy the smiles of stars
I still share the moon its tales and music
I still watch the ribbons of passing nations and a poet who rides in the wagon driven by three deers
I still see all that in the silver light of the moon
As two lovers watch the reflected graphics tape in a cinema of seventies. .
As two lovers stare the night of the coffee that sparks with bubbles and stars
Rain still is occurring the rhythm on the window edge
The hearts is still occurring the rhythm in the body’s cage
Clock on the wall is still occurring the rhythm
Then, the wind rolls the page ..
The night could happen to me anytime
For example … when I ignite three candles …
Or when I carry my lantern
The night happens as any champagne being opened ..
Very quick … The night happens to me
Very calm .. very gently .. very smoothly
Like a dark fire engulfs an old novel

Wow, our Baghdad is safe!

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Written by Bahaulddin Rawi. Photo: Montaser Jaduo

I write with the color of blood and burning tears …

Baghdad is not safe anymore, I mean the whole Baghdad, cafes, markets, alleyways, backstreets, garage cars, mosques, churches, cinemas, schools, and even universities; all of them are threatened. Life has become lifeless between the jaws of terrorism and the razor of militias’ claws.

Clocks no longer refer to the time; the time itself has been lost from people’s memories as they move on the sands that take them to the hell ground at any moment. Even the beautiful sky is no longer blue and clear anymore. Panic invades the streets of our real Baghdad. Baghdad died and the crow croaking is only there in the corners and corridors while the smiley faces of people become impossible.

Let’s talk about cemeteries; they are crowded by “customers” from all races and types, a Muslim Sunni from the west, a Muslim Shiite from the south, Sabian from Maysan, a Catholic from Kirkuk, an Armenian from Baladroz, thereafter the picture of the situation became different as a camouflage, a Sunni body in Karbala’a is slaughtered from vein still reeling before cutting the second vein, a Protestant body is on a pile of waste as a corpse without legs and hands, then another corpse of a Muslim Shiite slaughtered near the mosque. No one really understands what the hell is happening in this country that is plagued by butchers who are racing to the necks while leaving the sheep, buffalo and cows to roam freely and mock human beings. Yes, no one can imagine where we are now as if we are in a bloody scene of a horror movie.

This is our Iraq nowadays, without exaggeration and intimidation; you find nothing there: no water, no electricity, no security and no peace in a country where you see death sneaking into the alleys, houses and streets. Our life there has become a scary and poisoned day – we live under daily killings and the news of kidnapping and revenge, even the schedule of killing and slaughter, which is broadcasted daily on television screens, and social media does not change.

You know what; honestly I cry blood every night for many reasons one of them is even so far away from home, I don’t feel the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003.

Thank you “america”… Thank Your Majesty for the freedom … Thank your Highness for democracy and enjoy our Oil, Petrol and the destruction of Mesopotamia, “The Country of Civilization”.

After this devastation, I felt that there was nothing behind my bones, just tiredness and whine, but suddenly, I decided to write and I still have a lot to tell.

What the love wants to

A ball of fire
That tumbles down
Roll over on the past
Turns it to brown
For the beautiful moment
In love we owe
For the wonderful feeling
That we ever know
Let’s toss our hearts
Like a spark in the straw
Like rain in the desert
Like lavas in the snow
Don’t tell me trouble !
Don’t tell me trouble !
With bad and good we’re gonna grow
Love is the secret
Like the magic in the apple

Love is the way
Everyday ………
………………….The night of saturday
Love is a worship
Kisses are the pray
Don’t tell me trouble !
Don’t tell me trouble !
They say that the love is the poisoned apple
We ate it whole
Regardless to say

By Ahmed Zaidan

A poem by Ahmed Zaidan

I am falling in the light
My breaths extend back and forth .. Like tides on a warm beach of sand ..
I expand more and more in the sun Like metals
I expand in my love of life till I contain Everything around
Then, I melt like a travelling cloud
I fade away like a moment of happiness ..
Like a handful of the dust of the crunched gold between fingers of Princess Jasmine..
I listen to the holy hymns of birds
I pray to the trees
Praise be to you my window !
Praise be to the light that finds its way To my deep loneliness..

I am falling in the light
I am diving in the light
I am breathing the light
I am closing the eyes to see the bright darkness in my eyelids..

I wash my heart with breezes of life again ..
I am a part of you, O nature.. I am beyond the window
Like any domestic plants or candle
Like a bird in a cage
I sing but don’t realize the meaning of the blue horizon..
I found myself as I am
I can’t interfere between myself and myself

Ode to Mosul – by Ahmed Zaidan

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Toss me, over there
like seeds in the air
on banks of Tigris
that flows in Mosul
Go out and see
How Mosul is free
Despite the shackles
Go out and see
How the birds are singing
On roofs of jails
On the fence like angels
When they turn to life, in
March,in the silent jungle…
They tend to be
On chimneys of sadness
And on every aged tree
Just go out and see
Just let your ears
And listen to me
Go out and fall
In every poet’s light
When he struggles to write
In the depths of a dark cellar
He believes that words will
defeat his killer.
He struggles to write …
When he weaves the light
In no morning’s night
When he turns his black
future, in a moment, to bright
When he throws himself
Like stars of hope
That loom in the sight
When he digs a hole
In the wall Of siege…

Go out
And you will know
What I am talking about
When he plays on Oud
And death is around
It’s not in his account
His fingers just dance
On the strings of hope
When he plays on Oud
And his family is around
His mother warns him
To be more quiet

The winged bull
Will come to save his people
To deploy the peace
And to crack on evil
The winged bull
Will come, this time. for sure
To retake all mills
And distribute the loaf
Equally
To cattle and every poor.
There is no longer injustice
For sure

By Ahmed Zaidan

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