The Exiled Shalash

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dear Baghdad

Vahal Abdulrahman is by all standards one of the most emotional bloggers I have seen on the world wide web. I religiously read his posts until he stopped, even now, I check his blog from time to time hoping that there is a new post. When in Washington a few weeks ago, I tried to meet him but he didn't respond to my emails. I would like to share this letter with you that I have almost memorized not only because it is so well written, but also because I know that like Shalash, Vahal writes from the heart and that's what Iraq needs. Here's that letter:

There is hope:

Friday, April 15, 2005

There is hope

Dear Baghdad,

I will write this letter to a boy who was born today in let's say Najaf and whose name is let's say Ali.

Dear Ali,

You have come into a new Iraq, one that is very different from the one I came into some 23 years ago. Your Iraq has what my Iraq never had, hope. I always dreamt of your Iraq, I stayed up late fantasizing about what it would be like to be in your Iraq.

My Iraq, dear Ali, was racist, my Iraq was bloody, my Iraq was war-torn, my Iraq was fearful, my Iraq was totalitarian and the only thing that makes me smile is that I can now refer to my Iraq in the past tense. I love your Iraq, not because your Iraq is suddenly tolerant, peaceful, rebuilt and democratic, but because your Iraq has the hope to be all of those things.

In my Iraq, children knew the numbers of all UN Security Council Resolutions, in your Iraq, there is hope that they will know all cartoon characters. In my Iraq, little school children praised SADDAM every morning, in your Iraq, there is hope that they will not even know who the Prime Minister is. In my Iraq, oh dear Ali, most high school students never even traveled to Baghdad, in your Iraq, there is hope that the destinations of school trips will be Beirut and Istanbul.

It is good that you get to know about my Iraq, Ali, not when you're a child because that's a time to know about video games. But when you grow up (and promise that you will take your time growing up), learn about my Iraq so that your Iraq can become something for which to live, something to love, something for which to cheer, something that makes you adore the Iraqi flag more, something that makes you want to recite the anthem more often, something that makes you love the national soccer team.

My Iraq is a time at which your Iraq will hopefully laugh. Laugh when you hear that Saddam had millions of portraits displayed across Iraq. Laugh when you read that food in my Iraq was distributed through rations. Laugh when you see images of military parades for the "Great Leader."

Let Halabja, Anfal, the bombing of your city, the mass graves, the torture chambers be memories of a past about which you will only read.

When you read this letter, a long time from now, I hope that your Iraq will have completely erased my Iraq and turned it into nothing but a memory for you and I both need to always remember my Iraq.

I remain truly yours,

Vahal Abdulrahman
April 15, 2005


  • Great post, Great blog... Keep it up.
    I like to read about Iraq from many perspectives, yours is another one added to my list of "check regularlies".

    I am olivebranch from

    go check it out sometimes


    By Blogger olivebranch, at 7:07 PM  

  • I am happy when I hear such words of optimism. It has been a great time in my life to be of service to the Iraqi people as a member of the United States military. I wish for your country all the best--that you can all achieve your fondest dreams. My weblog that discusses my feelings and experiences of being in Iraq is at

    Allah bless you and keep you safe!

    By Blogger Frank Staheli, at 5:50 PM  

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