this morning before going off to university I read that Baghdad, besides terrorism and being a city in a state that might be more serious then “just” war, is planning an underground system. Something so striking normal and crucial for a city Baghdad’s size that, hadn’t I known any better, I would have sworn things were improving in Iraq. The article’s journalist astonishlingly describes a Baghdad that hasn’t been seen in the news lately; a city obviousely recovering slowly but staedily from a terrible war:
In October, planning got under way for an above-ground commuter train line in the city’s west, which is set to remove thousands of cars from an approach into Baghdad known as bomb alley. And throughout the weeks since, a series of roads, and one highly symbolic bridge, have again been reopened to cars and pedestrians. The al-Aaimmah bridge linking the mostly Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiya and the predominantly Shia district of Khademiya was opened last Tuesday three years after nearly a thousand Shia pilgrims died in a stampede on the span.
Berlin-style walls put in place to keep Shias and Sunnis apart, have been gradually coming down. A 5-metre high barrier separating the Shia area of Abu Safeen and the Sunni zone of al-Fudal, was removed almost two months ago. Violence has yet to return. [source]
Could it really be that Baghdad is finally on its way of finding a new way of normality, of daily routine? Is the Great War of Christians versus Muslims or Westerners versus Easterners or whatever really moving on as are the US American GIs? Where to? To Afghanistan? Or still to Iran in the end?
Or is Baghdad no more, no less then finding to the same kind of normality Tel Aviv and Jerusalem found? Is it finally giving up on the idea that things might improve during any given time but trying to make a living of the situation no matter how terrible it is. With Israel generations and generations have fought their battles on many battlefields – situated in their home as well as at the frontline – nurished by the hope that their children wouldn’t have to fight anymore. I remember before I went off to Israel I talked to my boss at that time – an elderly man with a huge deal of life experiance who had become something like a mentor to me – and I mentioned it might be a good time to set foot in Israel for there had to be peace one day soon now and then I might be there before everybody else came running and get a lot of business opportunities out of it. He shook his head in sadness and replied he too, had thought that when he went to Isreal sometime in the 1970ies. Yet there had been no enduring peace. “But there has to be peace one day! This can’t go on like that forever!” I claimed. He said it very well could and today I all too often consider him being right.
As it appears to me the young generation of Israel – people my age – have pretty much given up on the idea of peace anytime soon. They are the third, sometimes fourth generation born into the conflict, they have never known anything else. So all they do is trying to get through one day after the other; ignoring the conflict; ignoring the danger. They go out partying all night knowing that it could very well be their very last night. There’s no sense in waiting for “better times” anymore for that “better times” might never take place. Never at all.
Is this the kind of normality Baghdad is heading for? A normality of war and terror. Just not giving a shit anymore out of desperation and hopelessness. I hope not!