Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And if they win the World Cup?

Two nights ago, I was working late and heard gunfire. This is not unusual in Baghdad. Its rare that a night passes where sporadic shots are not heard in the distance. But the firing did not stop after a few rounds. It escalated, and soon I couldn't tell where the shots were coming from. We were surrounded by gunfire, and it was loud enough that I thought grenades and mortars were exploding, too. Some of the shots sounded like they were coming from inside the compound.

Was this it? Were the naysayers right and Iraq was, finally, devolving into chaos? I moved away from the window and into the hallway.

I saw the Nepali guard wearing his bulletproof vest, which I have never seen him do. He clenched his Kalashnikov and peered out the window. I looked over his shoulder. It appeared that small red rockets or maybe some sophisticated bullets were flying through the air. This surprised me, as I didn't think this would be the choice weaponry of the new civil war.

The gunfire subsided after 30 minutes. I'm not the only one who mistook celebrations of Iraq's win over Syria for a new phase of the conflict. The rockets were "tracer rounds." Its normal that Iraqis respond this way to a small victory, a coworker told me, because they have so little to celebrate.


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