Five years ago today I had real hope that things would soon change in the nation of Iraq, after years of tyranny, dictatorship and suffering. Unlike any other non Iraqis I meet now in Iraq, I had been here before the war. I had experienced the fear and tyranny of the Saddam regime and I openly said we needed force to bring change. I knew that this could not be done by the Iraqi people. I feared what would happen to the people I loved during the days of the war. I was full of joy when the war finished so soon and I quickly returned to the nation I loved. On returning I found a sense of liberation, joy and freedom. There was a joy I had never seen before. Chaos was certainly there but we hoped it would soon cease. I will never forget the words of the top British General telling me to leave my return for a couple of weeks because ‘security should then be sorted out’. Five years later it has still not been sorted.
It is impossible to really describe what it is like here in Baghdad. I live in the fortified International Zone but even here I am surrounded by my bodyguards at all times and we can’t move without carrying the right pieces of plastic ID around our necks. When we do move we can’t move more than five miles an hour, have to stop every few yards a different security barriers and when we get to them the colour of your piece of plastic dictates how quickly you will be allowed through. All very intense, but it does not compare to my regular trips to St George’s Church.