AN IRAQI LIEUTENANT'S WAR DIARY

[Original text may be incomplete]

[Tr. Sheryl Blackstone sblackst@jade.tufts.edu]

The war journal of a young Iraqi lieutenant

When they resumed control of the bases deserted by Saddam
Hussein's troops, the Kuwaitis found a whole series of documents
abandoned in the debacle. No matter if they were on loose paper,
typed or handwritten, or if they bore the Iraqi military seal, all testify
to the poor morale of the Baghdad troops.  On his return from Kuwait,
Jacques Godefrain, deputy of Aveyron, gave us one of these
documents, which is the field journal of a young Iraqi lieutenant.

Tuesday 15 January 1991

Leave was suspended today for officers and men because of the end of
the period, (granted) [Editor's note: the word had been put in
parentheses by the Iraqi officer] by the (international) Security
Council for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.  We are there and it is a
historic right that was stolen from us when we could do nothing.  The
army is in a state of total alert to prepare itself against allied and
American aggression expected against our well-loved territory.  I am
very worried for my parents because I know what these conditions
represent for them.  But God is good.  We wish the war had not
happened, but it has, so combat would be welcome.

[Translation continued by Donald Webb (DonWebb@CSUS.EDU)]

Tuesday 17 January 1991

"Say this: all that happens is what God has decided for us."  (A verse
from the Qur'an).  God has spoken truly.  This morning at 2:45 a.m. I
heard military aircraft.  A few seconds later, the guard came in and
told me in a voice tinged with caution, fear and consternation,
"Lieutenant, lieutenant, there may be bombing."  I dressed quickly
and then realized that the American and Atlantic attack against our
country was starting and that the war had begun.  This is war, with all
that the word implies.  Afterwards, the enemy planes began their
intensive bombing on the airfield that we have been assigned to
defend, at As-Salman in Al-Matna province.

I am very worried.  Rather I am very worried for my relatives.  They
are alone out there.  And I know how afraid they are.
O God!  Protect.
O God!  Patience.
O God!  Save us all.

Friday 18 January 1991

Heavy enemy bombing continues.  The bombing and raids kept up all
last night.

Saturday 19 January 1991

Few enemy air raids today because of the bad weather, and our
missiles have been fired at Israel for the second time.  I am very
worried for my relatives.

Sunday 21 January 1991

The bombing and enemy raids began very early today.  Air-to-ground
missiles began to explode at 3:30 a.m. this morning.  I am very
worried for my relatives.
O God!  Protect.
O God!  Save us all.

Monday 21 January 1991

Few enemy raids today.  Our military communiques say that the
enemy has bombed most of the regions and provinces of Iraq with
planes and missiles.  I am constantly gripped by anxiety.

Tuesday 22 January 1991

Thanks be to God.  Many thanks be given him.  Dawn has come and no
raids have taken place, at least not so far...  Now heavy raids have
begun again.  God protect us!  I went to the... of the... brigade at the
bunker to move them to another place because of the raids and heavy
bombing at the emplacement.  When I got there, I found four bombs.
The situation was very difficult, because we had to pass close by them.
But God protects.  What an awful sight: one of the soldiers (disturbed)
one of the bombs and suddenly it exploded and the soldier
disappeared and I saw (two pieces) of his flesh on the second story of
the bunker.  Allah aqbar.  What a horrible thing to see.  I went back to
the regiment and found the first section at another place.  They had
moved to safety.

Wednesday 23 January 1991

Threatening weather.  Time drags.  We wait and watch.  I am very
afraid for my brothers. ...is in Kuwait. ...is in Fao and the nearby area.
I am most afraid for...  In the name of God the compassionate and
merciful...  "We have built bulwarks around and behind them and they
see nothing." (Editor's note: a verse from the Qur'an)  O God, protect!  O
God, save us!  The planes came back to bomb again.  They were close
and we could see them.  "If only I had wings."

Thursday 24 January 1991

The raids began early.  They began at about 2:30 a.m. today and have
continued heavily without a let-up.  I heard news that Bassorah has
been bombed heavily.  May God have come to help my relatives; I am
very worried about them.  How I want to see them and find out how
they are!  God is beneficent.  Where are they now?  God only knows.
Ahhhhhhhhh!

Friday 25 January 1991

The raids stopped today and then started up again after sunset.
Leaves had been suspended but were granted again.  But that doesn't
help me because only 5 percent are given leave.  The important thing
is that they've begun again.  I sent a letter to my relatives and was so
worried I forgot to ask about my children and about... and... and my
sister, but I said hello to everybody.  I ask God to protect them all.

Saturday 26 January 1991

Enemy air strikes continue, and I'm very worried, depressed and
bored.  I think about my children.

Sunday 27 January 1991

The air strikes began this morning.  I learned before noon today that I
have been promoted to the rank of lieutenant and that the decision
reached Brigade headquarters after a delay of... weeks.  This afternoon
I got back the letter I had sent to my relatives.  It was returned to me
because the soldier who was going to mail it didn't go on leave.  I was
very upset by this turn of events.  My mind and heart are with my
relatives, and only my body is with the army.  I very much need to see
my relatives.  I had a dream yesterday and it was not a good omen at
all.

Monday 28 January 1991

The enemy air raids continue and I am in a (shelter).  The top of it is
only tent canvas.  God protect us all.  After sunset, a flock of sheep
came up to us.  Apparently the owner of the flock had been killed in
the air raids.  The enemy with his modern planes has launched air
strikes on a shepherd.  Maybe the enemy took the sheep for nuclear
or chemical or petroleum sheep.  For shame.

Tuesday 29 January 1991

This evening, after a series of enemy air strikes and watching their in-
flight refueling over our territory, I decided to go to Company... in the
tank battalion that belongs to the armored brigade.  I went to sleep
without eating.  All the food I had was a little gruel and tea.

Wednesday 30 January 1991

The air strikes began heavily today and I am still alive.  I could be
killed at any moment.  I am more afraid for my relatives than I am
afraid to die.  The air raids are nothing new to me, but I am very
worried.

Thursday 31 January 1991

The attacks continue.  Only one officer went on leave.  It was...  It was
agreed that I would go on leave if war breaks out between Iraq on
one side and 29 countries on the other.  That is just not fair.

2 February 1991

I was awakened this morning by the noise of an enemy air raid.  I ran
and hid in the nearby trench.  I had breakfast and afterwards
something indescribable happened.  Two enemy planes came toward
us and began firing at us, in turn, with missiles, machine guns and
rockets.  I was almost killed.  Death was a yard away from me.  The
missiles, machine guns and rockets didn't let up.  One of the rockets
hit and pierced our shelter, which was penetrated by shrapnel.  Over
and over we said, "Allah, Allah, Allah."  One tank burned and three
other tanks belonging to 3rd Company, which we were with, were
destroyed.  That was a very bad experience.  Time passed and we
waited to die.  The munitions dump of the 68th Tank Battalion
exploded.  A cannon shell fell on one of the soldiers' positions, but,
thank God, no one was there.  The soldiers were somewhere else.  The
attack lasted about 15 minutes, but it seemed like a year to me.  I
read chapters in the Qur'an.  How hard it is to be killed by someone
you don't know, you've never seen and can't confront.  He is in the sky
and you're on the ground.  Our ground resistance is magnificent.  After
the air raid, I gave great thanks to God and joined some soldiers to ask
how each of them was.  While I was doing that, another air attack
began.  2 February at 2000 hours.

3 February 1991

Few air raids today.  The pain I've been having all the past 6 months
has returned.  I am sad.  In the last 5 days I've eaten only a few dates
and boiled lentils.  What have we done to God to endure that?  I have
no news of my relatives.  How can I, since I don't know what is
happening to me.

What will become of me?  What is happening to them?  I don't know.
I don't know.  God protect them.  How I miss my children.  I know that
(Editor's note: woman's first name) is very, very frightened.  What
happens to her when she hears the planes and missiles?  I don't know.

P.S.: 3 February 1991 at 2100 hours.  While I was writing these lines,
another air raid occurred.

Monday 4 February 1991

Few air raids today.  I stayed alone in the shelter.  Worried about the
bombing.. worried about hunger.. worried about water...

Tuesday 5 February 1991

I woke up this morning to the sound of enemy air raids.  I quickly put
on my uniform and ran to the trench.  I had my helmet on.  Thank
God, the raid ended.  In the afternoon I went to wash up inside an
armored troop carrier.  I washed quickly because these vehicles are
usually targets for aircraft.

Wednesday 6 February

I awakened to the noise of air raids.  I dressed quickly and put on my
helmet.  Afterwards, I had breakfast.  Then there was another air
attack.  I ran to the trench.  It was small, but it held all three of us:
myself, the lieutenant in charge of the 2nd Section of the 3rd Company
of the Tank Battalion and a communications man.  The planes dropped
a lot of bombs before returning to Saudi Arabia.  We were covered
with dirt.  We were buried alive.  God is good.

Thursday 7 February 1991

Not many air strikes on us.  I thought of my relatives.  My illness is
getting worse and I feel tired.  The planes come and go, and the
shelter holds many a comrade.

Friday 8 February 1991

Few air raids today.  At about 2000 hours, while I was talking with a
guard, a plane flew over us, very very low.

Saturday 9 February 1991

I woke up along with Lieutenant..., head of the 1st section of my 3rd
Tank Company, who was in the same shelter with me, when planes
began to attack.  We went to the bay trench.  The planes left without
firing at us.  The air raids began, and with them began my descent
into the grave.

Monday 11 February 1991

Enemy planes have come back and bombed heavily.  We went to the
trenches or, rather, the graves.  I was very upset when I heard that
people born in 1973 are being drafted.  That means that my brother...
will have to go into the army.  He is naive.  He can't (he can't manage
by himself).  He'll make a fool of himself.  He's too picky about his
food.  Where will he find room for that in the army?  And especially
this army!  How I wish I were with him so I could help him.

Tuesday 12 February 1991

I have been here for more than 35 days because leaves were canceled.
I am bored and sad.  This morning, I learned that 26 soldiers from our
division were condemned to death for deserting the front.  They were
apprehended near Samawa and executed at 2nd Division
headquarters.  Two of them were from the 68th Tank Battalion that
we were with.  They were unlucky.  Their shame is very great.  God is
good.  God protects.

Thursday 14 February 1991

I woke up at 8 a.m. this morning and said my prayers.  I couldn't
make my ablutions with water before praying, so I had to use the
sand that had fallen on me and covered me from head to foot in an
enemy air raid that had been going on continuously since midnight.

The planes launched missiles at our positions and the tanks that were
with us, believing that the tanks were missile-launching sites.  Smoke
and dust rose into the sky and mingled with the smell of powder.
None of us thought we could get out of this bombardment safely.  But
thanks be to God.  I stood because I couldn't get into the trench on
account of my illness.  But, thank God, I wasn't hit.

Friday 15 February 1991

I went to field hospital number... because I was very ill.  I heard that
Iraq has decided to withdraw from Kuwait.

Saturday 16 February 1991

I feel so fatigued that I can't breathe, and I think I am going to faint
at any moment from my illness.  The only thing that you can find
everywhere in the world is air, and yet I can't breathe it.  I can't
breathe, eat, drink or talk.  I have been here for 39 days and have not
yet gone on leave.  The planes came and bombed Battalion
headquarters.  Most of the positions were destroyed and three soldiers
were killed.  When the planes came to bomb us, I remained standing
because I can't go into the trench.

Sunday 17 February 1991

My illness is getting worse.  I am short of breath.  I hurt.  I have
begun taking medicine; I don't know what it is for, but the main thing
is to take it because I know the medicine can't cause me any more
pain than I'm already enduring.  The air raids have started up again.

[End of text received]

FROM THE HISTORICAL TEXT ARCHIVE, MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY
http://www.msstate.edu/Archives/History/USA/GulfWar
ftp.msstate.edu/docs/history/USA/GulfWar

Please return to Geocities