madly in love with Iraq


Sarrafiyah Bridge...

“It was designed using a very high factor of safety, on the assumption that it would stand the weight of a row of fully armoured tanks standing still on the bridge for at least an hour!”

Prof. Sam’an explained in one of his structural design lectures back in the good old days in Baghdad University.
“Now we stopped using the BS code (British standards) and moved on to follow the ACI code (American concrete institute) which adapts a much lower safety factor and consequently is more cost effective.”

No wonder why I insisted as a child to cross the Sarrafiyah to the other side of the river rather than any other Bridge. Something in its huge concrete pillars and its overlapping steel bars brought confidence and security.

My late Uncle used to tell me stories of diving competitions back in the fifties which he personally participated in, in an effort to convince me to swim in deep waters.
Stories which I was never able to verify as my mother denied them completely.
But yet they are still engraved in my memory.

I remember sticking my head out of the car window every time we cross and wish a train would pass along the abandoned railway track by the side of the bridge. Freight trains used to cross I was told; but I never saw one. I hope this is not an imaginary thought as I couldn’t see any tracks on the pictures of its partial collapse today.

I came across many Sarrafiyah style bridges in Britain especially in small villages in the country side and it always made me feel nostalgic and sometimes proud.

But they were never like our Sarrafiyah which towers the river Tigris and with the effect of the everlasting sunshine reflects the palm trees line along the bank on the water surface.

Just over the weekend I watched a series of interviews with ex-Iraqi Army top commanders testifying on what had happened to their troops during March 2003.
One of them said “All the measurements we took before the war to conceal our arms and tanks in camouflaged warehouses were in vain. Everything was bombed in the first few days of the war. The jet fighters have density sensitive sensors which helped aiming at the correct targets. ”

I am fed up with the blame game, but any reasonable judgment has to raise the question of how the most advanced and hi-tech army in the world is failing miserably to detect where these tons of bombs are coming from or at least where they are stored!

Nothing left in our Baghdad. The evil Goddess demands more and more; too many sacrifices were given but the Goddess is still not satisfied. We tried human beings to protect our heritage and failed, we left our houses and our areas and it did not work either.

No factor of safety seems to work; not British and certainly not American. Whatever we were taught seems useless and laughable.

If we only knew then maybe we would have established a new code and call it IABC (Iraqi anti-bombs code)! I wish...


  • Sorry for sounding pesmisstic , sorry for loosing my hope , sorry if I'll disapoint you
    But, I don't think that you're wish is going to come true soon, it's a fact that we're sinking , we're going deeper in this bloody mud.
    We're being attacked by beasts , evils, savagers or maybe something deserves a worse adjactive which I haven't learnt yet.
    They don't care about life, they reject love and they're pleased to hurt.
    Keep your hope inside your heart till this storm passes.
    I wonder if we'll be able to see our Baghdad again how will it look like ?
    I really wish that I died before living this time , eyt I didn't so I have to suffer it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:00 pm  

  • oi.

    this post combined with the last one are total heartbreak. i couldn't help but notice that no one bothered about the parliament attack, but somehow it's not all that surprising.

    By Blogger nadia, at 10:57 pm  

  • Hello Hala: no you weren't imagining things: the railroad tracks were taken apart and the metal used to strengthen the bridge in the 90's.
    it was abandoned for so long anyway, and i guess they were short on steel, they ripped up the whole railroad line not just the bridge segment.. funniest thing is: the concrete blocks that the rails used to go on, are still there till now.. witnesses to ages long gone.

    By Blogger A. Damluji, at 12:27 am  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger A. Damluji, at 12:42 am  

  • As far as i know is that since they stopped using the rail track and so pulled it off and widened the bridge to be 4 sides instead of 2....i ve lots of memmories of sneaking off college to go drinking under the sarafiye bridge in the 90's ....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 am  

  • I hope you don't mind an off-topic comment, but I think this is important:

    Re: the Iraq war in general

    (also see this post)

    Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

    So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.

    By Blogger Swan, at 3:14 pm  

  • Dear all,
    This picture shows the train which I never saw crossing the bridge


    By Blogger hala_s, at 2:28 pm  

  • that pictue gave me goose-bumps.. where is Iraq..

    By Blogger Little Penguin, at 3:32 pm  

  • Hello Hala_S, yes the Train was the Kirkuk train, I remember it well, though I saw it only once when I was a kid, and yes hussain Kamel did remove the rails to widen the bridge but it also was the reason that its structural design was effected, this c could have been a catalyst in makeing the Bridge vunrable.

    By Blogger Zappy Corleone, at 7:23 pm  

  • Dear Hala,

    thank you for thios well structured and heart breaking. it coincided with bad news I have received from Iraq about my family there.
    "Nothing left in our Baghdad"
    I have tried not to lose faith but it seems what you have said conclude the real misery that Iraqi people are facing now and it seems that we are unable to change anything no matter how hard we try.

    we all share more or less the same nostalgia towards Iraq. when I heard about Assarafiya bridge I immediately remembered Jissr Al-Mu'alak when it was bombed in 1991 war. my memory took me back 30 years ago when my Grandfather take me with him everyday to watch the train coming from Basrah towards Baghdad when it passes near our house early inthe morning. my favorite part was when I put 10 Fulus on the rail track and when the train pass over it, it became so smooth and thin. these little memories are haunting me wherever I go and relentless to disappear from my memory.
    it seems that nothing left for us Iraqis in exile but to share our sorrows about a country one day existed called Iraq.


    By Blogger Sheko Mako, at 3:34 pm  

  • sheko mako

    Thank you for your comment and welcome to the Iraqi blogsphere.

    By Blogger hala_s, at 9:11 am  

  • Dear Hala,
    I am writing for a newspaper and would like to get in touch with you, becaus I love your blog! Please contact me asap:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:52 am  

  • Our Eyes Dream Acid Tears

    One land, one people, all asleep
    one dream in every mind
    all see words of scripture, captive
    in a vise of hatred, crushed
    distorted words of God, acid
    tears, with screaming lips, the captor
    feels the kiss of Satan
    on his heart.

    By Blogger Through Grace Peace, at 9:57 pm  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:35 am  

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