Iraqi Playwright's Long-Awaited Return to Homeland Quickly Becomes Struggle for Survival

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Issam Jameel, an Iraqi playwright, returned to his homeland in 2005, looking forward to seeing his country free from the regime of Saddam Hussein. Instead, he found that assassinations and explosions were everywhere, while the basic needs of civil life like electricity…sewage draining…and fresh water, are scarcely found. He finds ordinary tasks like finding a job and selling a house to be a nightmarish proposition. Even his return from Iraq was nearly impossible because he could barely find a safe way to get out.

The War in Iraq is a nightly event on our evening news programs, but only Issam Jameel has told the story from an expatriate Iraqi's viewpoint in "Iraq Through a Bullet Hole: A Civilian Returns Home" (ISBN 9781932690705, Modern History Press, 2008). It is not a story written by American soldiers or a journalist, but by an Iraqi native who describes things from inside Iraqi society itself.

Issam Jameel fled Iraq in 1994. Then in 2005 , because his nephew was accidentally shot by American soldiers, he decided to return home to visit his family. After a long and treacherous journey, he was able to get across the border. But once inside his native land, he feared he would never be able to leave. Airplane flights were nearly impossible to reserve, and going back over the Jordanian border he had crossed to enter was too dangerous. Only after about three months was he able to make his way over the northern border into Syria. During the time he spent in Iraq, Jameel deplored what he saw.

While American media showed Iraqis rejoicing in the streets over the capture of Saddam Hussein, Jameel points out that the people did not rejoice long. Years of U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq did not make the American invasion welcome. Once the U.S. handed Hussein over to the Shia to hang him, it looked to many Iraqis like the U.S. had made a bargain with Iran, and people feared Iraq would be handed over to Iranian rule. The Iraqi view of American politics is confused in a long history most Americans themselves do not understand.

While the Western media only describes the conflict in Iraq as a battle between American democracy and terrorism--Al-Quaida or Iran or some other enemy--the truth is far more complicated for the Iraqi people. American troops came to Iraq largely ignorant of Iraqi society; consequently, the soldiers have been hostile and had hostility returned. Jameel explains that this misunderstanding has agitated conflict and provoked a religious zeal that has turned many Iraqis to more radical forms of Islam to find meaning in their daily threatened lives.

"Iraq Through a Bullet Hole" is a rare opportunity for the Western World to see Iraq, its history, culture, and politics through an Iraqi's eyes. Jameel provides the common Iraqi's perspective of those who live with the aftermath of the American invasion, daily caught in a battle between democracy and terrorism they did not ask for that has made their land a war zone. Anyone who wants to understand the war in Iraq will find much to ponder in "Iraq Through a Bullet hole."

About the Author
Issam Jameel was born in Baghdad in 1954. After finishing high school, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts at Baghdad University and did postgraduate work in theatrical studies. Issam studied acting but was more interested in writing, so he began to write criticism and reviews about local plays that were being performed in Baghdad theaters. This job inspired him to become a playwright; many of his plays have been performed by the National Theater of Baghdad. After departing Iraq in 1994, he worked in a radio station belonging to one of the Iraqi opposition groups against Saddam Hussein. In 2002, he immigrated to Australia where he currently lives.

"Iraq Through a Bullet Hole: A Civilian Returns Home" (ISBN 9781932690705, Modern History Press, 2008) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.


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