On the eve of war, Iraqis turn to God; since 1980 Iraq has been a country at war. Now the happless Iraqi nation prepares for the latest onslaught.

Position:News From Baghdad

There are no doubts in Baghdad that a war will come. Stockpiling of foodstuff, digging of backyard wells, hoarding of medicines and the building of fences around residential areas and homes are but a few ways in which Iraqis are preparing for this illusive war that threatens to drop more bombs on them daily, than all the missiles combined in the entire 1991 Gulf War. With hundreds of now resident western journalists busily hacking away at Iraqi citizens daily, probing, pleading, almost ordering them to speak out against their leadership, Iraqis express "war fatigue" from a relentless probing and interrogation that has brought no change. "The war has not yet begun, but we are already exhausted," said one. Since 1980 Iraq has been a country at war. No one under the age of 30 remembers a time when there was no war. Economic sanctions have placed the country under a sort of house arrest and has prevented among many other things, development in technology, medicine and social and economic policies. Although involved in a fierce military confrontation with Iran for eight years (1980-88), Iraq continued using the income from the sale of its natural resources, mainly oil, to subsidise education, housing, medical care and public works. This gave the average Iraqi a standard of living equal to a citizen of one of the world's wealthiest countries. The economic embargo, imposed by the UN in 1990, left the masses wanting and war profiteers rolling in money. It also dealt a death-blow to the once developed and evolved Iraqi middle class. One of the few countries in the whole Middle East to boast of such a strong and capable human resource pool, Iraq was a donor country not a recipient. Those times changed when the biting sanctions and spiralling devaluation of the currency set in, following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.

With approximately two million of Iraq's 24 million people now abroad, the country has been reduced to an ageing brain pool, with millions of young people without the skills their parents had. While most 55 year olds in Baghdad or the southern port city of Basra speak a foreign language, have read European classical literature, and can talk with authority about space exploration, their children cannot and are ignorant by comparison. Rima 47, and her husband Ahmad, 54 were both educated in London. She studied literature and he music. They speak English, some French and have honed their knowledge of the West to apply liberal secular...

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