Thursday, May 05, 2005

Steven Vincent Reports from Basra

Steven Vincent, author of In the Red Zone, has returned to Iraq, traveling in from Kuwait.
At 8:15 a.m. today, Mr. Farrid--the driver from the Al Baghli Transportation Company--picks me up at the Oasis Hotel. A portly, genial guy, he makes short work of the Kuwait City traffic and soon we're roaring across the desert floor in an SUV, Egyptian music blasting from the cassette player, the day hot, dry and cloudless, whooshing past signs reading "DISCOVER ISLAM, THE WORLD'S FASTEST GROWING RELIGION WWW.SULTAN.COM" and "MUTA'ALA RANCH GOD BLESS U.S. TROOPS" and animal flocks grazing in the scrubby fields bordering the highway--sheep, goats, and camels--while in the distance towers of brilliant orange oil fires swirl and leap like mystic apparitions on the desert floor, even as they spew torrents of thick black smoke. At Abdaly, we turn left toward Basra, the intersection supervised by US troops, one giant soldier standing in front of a humvee like a khaki-colored terminator. Within moments, we're in the town of Safwan, basically a border area where the streams of traffic heading into and out of Iraq converge, forming long lines of cars and lorries waiting for baggage and cargo checks, passport and visa control points, the constant bang-bang of stamps smacking documents. The paperwork goes without a hitch--however, I'm told, to my surprise, that I must have an HIV test within four days of arriving in Iraq, a pro forma requirement for all visitors. But still, with all that, the document nightmare is over.

Mr. Farrid lacks the proper paperwork to enter Iraq, so he hands me off to Ali, acting evidently as my unarmed "bodyguard," since he came accompanied by Hussan, the actual sayyiq (driver). Whereas Farrid was a round and slightly epicene Egyptian, Ali and Hussan are pure Iraqi in their way--dark, edgy, dressed in soiled disdashas, Ali with startling icy-gray eyes, jittery, talkative. After the polite lethargy of Kuwait and Bahrain, this comes as kind of a shock, its like Iraqis exist on nerves and adrenaline and can we not understand why?

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Sandmonkey inspects his sperm and to his surprise finds that each one of the little fellers is screaming, "Yes to Mubarak!"
Last time I masturbated my sperm came out screaming “Yes to Mubarak”. It did, all 300 million of them. Seriously.

Now THAT is an Arab Leader-for-Life with real power.

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