At the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan
Three days ago, the new Iraqi Ambassador to Jordan made his official debut. Throwing open the doors of the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, he invited a number of us to meet the Foreign Minister of Iraq, H.E Mr. Hoshyar Zibari, in Amman for a short visit. The Foreign Minister walked into the large reception room, beaming. He shook hands with us as we mentally recorded the scene for posterity. Among the invitees were a number of staunch opponents of Saddam Hussein, almost giddy with relief at the transformation wrought in the Embassy itself. Some,who remembered the grimy walls hung with portraits of Saddam,were pleasantly surprised by the scrubbed interior and the oils and watercolors now gracing the walls, most of them painted by Iraqi artists. Dressed in fuschia, Tamara Daghistani(Al-Sadoun)laughed and said, "Who would have imagined that I'd ever be invited here!". The Foreign Minister and the Ambassador both spoke, saying that this was a new day for Iraqis, and that the new Embassy would never go back to the ugly traditions of the past.
The next day, I went to collect my new Iraqi passport; like most Iraqi identity papers, passports had been heavily subscribed by the former regime in the past. The consular officials ushered us in a room with chairs against the wall and an empty desk. He told us that we should line up in front of the desk and that another official would soon arrive to hand out our passports. Immediately the man next to me began to complain." Why should we stand in front of an empty desk when we can sit?" he asked loudly. Everyone around him nodded their heads vigorously. Smiling through grit teeth,the consular official reiterated that those were the rules. The complaining man began to complain again, "I don't see the point," he bellowed, "We'll go sit down and then form a row in front of the desk when the official comes". Eventually a number of us did sit down. The passports official took ten minutes to arrive; when he walked in, everyone clapped and whistled.
As I was exiting the Consular Section, passport in hand, I heard the defeated consular official say to his colleague, " You ask them to stand, they want to sit down. If only I'd given him the back of my hand!"
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Ann Tornkvist - 8/23/2006
I'm a Paris-based freelance journalist and I am looking into some potential stories in Amman, where my family resides, and I am currently looking for Iraqis in Amman, preferably those who have moved there in the last three years. Would you be able to help? My telephone number is +33 6 33 89 87 26 and my email is email@example.com