The drums of war are once again echoing in my ears. I am disgusted at seeing Donald Rumsfeld defending why the US needs to invade another country. Interestingly CNN keeps showing an old footage of him shaking Saddam Hussein's hand.
That must have been in the late eighties when the US was providing the know how for building chemical weapons as well as strategic intelligence on where to use them against our young men defending our country against Saddam Hussein.
I turned the TV off, put on an Ebi's ” Kee Ashkato Paak Meekone” (Who wipes your tears?), turn on my computer and write the story of my own battle from the Iran-Iraq war.
It was early monday morning, it was a warm sunny day. That day I was a member of a small platoon of Special Forces near the Majnoon Islands, in southern Iraq bordering Iran. We had just finished our mission and were leaving that day.
A new team was replacing us. Re-enforcements were constantly coming. The Iranian army had successfully captured the Majnoon Islands and were thinking of advancing even further. The boys were in high spirits and joyful.
I see my good friend Reza who was coming in to replace us. Reza was a 22-year-old who was in the front lines for only a few months. He planned to go back home in a few days. This was probably his last mission. He was a man with big dreams, wanting to finish his studies and marry his sweatheart and move to the US. Probably what every 22-year-old wanted in those years.
I greet reza, we both hungrily share a can of beans. I hug him. We put away our weapons and just chat. I tell him I am happy for him, he will return home soon and see his family. He is delighted. I am jealous as I still have a month left. I hug reza and leave.
As the Jeep is leaving, I see him for the last time. His happy simile as always warmed the day. I tell him to write me and that we should hook up in Tehran. He nods. Eventually Reza's figure becomes smaller and smaller as we drive away.
The next day I am awakened. The Iraqi army has attacked us with chemical weapons at the Majnoon Islands. I suddenly think of my friend and am breathless for a few seconds. The number of casualties are unknown but they are bringing the victims to a near by field hospital.
I wear my boots and run. As I enter the hospital I am overwhelmed by the smell of burnt flesh. I see chaos; doctors trying to attend to the victims in vein. I quickly learn that two Iraqi helicopters dropped several shells full of mustard gas. I am horrified, I want to die.
I try to find my friend. As I am walking by the victims, what I see horrifies me. I see several soldiers die as I pass by them; most from respiratory failure. For some, their skin is no longer intact.
Mustard gas is the deadly chemical that rapidly penetrates through the skin. Most die instantly in seconds from asphyxiation. Others die of infections and those that survive are left with life-long respiratory problems.
I finally find my friend. His body is full of blisters. He is gasping for air as if he is drowning and cannot breath. He looks at me for the last time and closes his eyes. I come out of the hospital tent, find a desolate place and sob.
I dedicate this story to those who fought for our country and saved us from the invasion of a blood thirsty, savage army.