Thursday, September 6, 2007

Riverbend Has Left Iraq

For those who don't know who Riverbend is, join the club. I know of her, but like most people who read her blog Baghdad Burning, I wouldn't know her if she was standing right next to me. That might be her picture on that book cover. Then again, it might not be for all I know. Nevertheless, like many of her readers, I felt some relief when I read this at Juan Cole's site:

Riverbend the most well-known Sunni Arab blogger of Baghdad , is no longer a Baghdadi. Like some 2 million other Iraqis, she is now a refugee in a neighboring country (she is in Syria, where there may now be 1.5 million Iraqis; there are some 800,000 in Jordan). Her family had decided that it was just too dangerous to remain in Baghdad, where Shiite militiamen have been ethnically cleansing them. Clearly, they were afraid of a home invasion by the Mahdi Army. She is lucky to have gotten out a couple of months ago. Syria just decided to tighten up visa requirements for Iraqis trying to flee there. Al-Hayat reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had been apprised of this decision earlier.

Fears of Sunni Arab Tribal Feuding in Diyala
Cheney, Rumsfeld blamed by Blunkett for Dissolving Iraqi Army

Riverbend's blog says this in the about box: "Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation." A girl blog should be about favorite singers, boys, and nail polish, not death, mayhem, and the fear they engender. Yet that's what she's been describing from her point of view for the last four years.

When I was her age, I moved across the United States to where I live now. Leaving home was a hard thing, but it was my choice, and I knew I was headed somewhere better. I could drive across the country without being afraid that I'd run into roving bands of thieves and murderers. I also knew that I could visit where I grew up, and see the people I grew up with. Not so for Riverbend, I fear:

It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.

Leaving Home...

I hope she gets to return someday, but I'm not betting on it.

NOTE: I, ahem, borrowed the image of Riverbend's book from No Quarter. If you're interested in the book, why not follow the link and click through from the site. I'm sure Larry and SusanUnPC will appreciate the support.


Anonymous said...

It was a relief to finally hear from her and find that she and her family have made it into Syria okay. Her writing skills are well beyond those of most people her age.

I hope she will continue to keep us posted on her life now as a refugee.

Cujo359 said...

Her writing skills are beyond most native English speakers', no matter what their age. I must say that I'm a bit in awe. Arabic and English are very different languages. Arabic is rated as one of the most difficult for English speakers to learn by our government's language schools.

Hopefully she'll be able to find an Internet cafe more often.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice words… and your help in our efforts.

One Fly said...

This is good news and I'm stealing and linking to this Cujo because as you know I have kept the light on for her for three years. Thank you.

One Fly said...

Major mistake here-this is what came up on your page this morning and did not look at the date nor was I aware she had written a book. What do I know!

Cujo359 said...

Unfortunately, One Fly, this was three years ago. I haven't heard anything about her status since.