Daily Life in Iraq

Diary of Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive

Please find below links to the Diary of Dr Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive. Dr Eskander’s journal, which appears with his kind permission, starts in November 2006 and describes the perilous and tragic situation that the Iraq National Library and Archive is operating under and which led to the institution’s temporary closure at the end of that month.

In early December, after consulting the heads of his departments, Dr Eskander re-opened the National Library and Archive even though the security situation remained as bad as before.

Here is a brief snip from November 2006:

11 November, 2006

I left Rome to Amman, and the next day, I arrived to the Baghdad International Airport. It is well known that the highway, which links the Airport to the Baghdad City, is the most dangerous road in the world.

For a security reason, I asked the taxi driver to drop me at the first military checkpoint, which is by car 3 minutes away from the Airport. One must not trust anybody, especially the Airport taxi drivers. At the checkpoint, my driver was waiting for me with his car. The security police asked us to leave the area immediately, as they were suspicious of abandoned car at the checkpoint. The highway was in a chaotic state, as everyone tried to leave the Airport area, including the policemen and the soldiers, who did not hesitate to point their guns at us, when our car slowed its speed in order to allow their cars to pass!!

I asked the driver to take me to my office straightaway. Minutes after we left the highway, two terrorists bombed a police checkpoint in the Al-Yarmook district, killing 60 people and injuring 90 others. My driver and I decided to take another route via the Al-Karradah district. Once again, just as we entered the Al-Karradah district, two car-bombs exploded killing and injuring a lot of civilians. I decided not to go to my office, as the other main routes were extremely dangerous. Indeed, on the same day and in the very busy Al-Sa’adun area, two more car-bombs exploded, killing and injuring many people. It was a very nice welcome and back to reality.

13 November, 2006

I received bad news, as soon as I arrived to my office. In my absent, INLA was bombed twice and snipers’ bullets broke several windows. Fortunately, no body was hurt. My staff withheld these information from me, when I contacted them. They claimed that they did not want me to be worried and to spoil my visit.

I spent the rest of the week trying to advise a number of my employees what to do, as they got death threats. The Sunnis, who lived in Shi’i dominated districtwere given an ultimatum to abandon their homes and the Shi’is, who lived in a Sunni dominated district, had to leave their homes. So far, two of my employees were murdered, the first worked in the Computer Department, and the second was a guard. Three of our drivers, who worked with us by contract, were murdered and three others were injured.

Read all of it here.

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