Note from Lilly Rivlin, president of Meretz USA: My anonymous friend in Baghdad seems to become more and more ironic and cynical with each letter. It is getting hot there.
One of the toughest looking South Africans emerges from the Baghdad Hotel every evening about dinner time. He carefully builds little piles of cat food along a shallow curb near some graying grass. Half a dozen cats– feral, skinny, skittish, wary as, well, cats–gather each evening for dinner. The South African squats hopefully, and talks to them softly and lovingly. But they are unapproachable. He will never quit. They will never acknowledge him. Love is where you find it.
Iraq will pay for its reconstruction in oil. Of course, it has zero refining capacity. With few if any gas stations in Baghdad gas is sold on street corners in plastic five gallon containers. Costs about $4/gallon. Gas runs the cars that scurry about to get out of the way of our armored vans. Our fleet of 13 SUVs likes to keep 25 or so containers on reserve. I am told that Iraqis wait up to 4 hours for a couple of containers. I don’t know where they get theirs, but ours show up under my window about 7 AM every day. Iraq is lucky to be so oil rich.
I’ve mentioned previously that you need to buy a stamp for $1 to get your boarding pass. Iraqis can pay either 1,000 dinars or 500. I can’t tell why the difference in fees. The boarding pass counter is a private enterprise, run by a woman who obviously paid for the concession. A dollar is worth about 1,500 dinars. The woman keeps meticulous records. It you pay in American, she writes down 1,000 dinars and pockets the 500. If you pay 1,000 dinars she writes down 500. I never saw anyone pay 500. My taxpayer’s revenge? I steal a little something from the embassy every time I go. Requests?
If you see a person in full military garb and body armor plus a camouflage ski mask and helmet standing by the side of the road at full attention at a U.S. checkpoint in 100+ degree heat, while those around are slouching, casual and relaxed, who is it and what is he or she doing? An Iraqi translator. The translator will be assassinated if his/her identity is discovered by anyone in a passing vehicle who spreads the word.