iraqi photography

2

My grandma making traditional Jewish Iraqi dish.

The meal she’s preparing is called Bez-Belahem (or more commonly called Uroog), which is a very tasty kind of beef patties mixed with sweet vegetables and eggs.

IRAQ. Al-Anbar governorate. Fallujah. June 27, 2016. A member of Iraqi government forces celebrates along a street in Fallujah after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants.

Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Ziggurat of Ur - Iraq

The city of Ur was one of the most important cities in ancient Mesopotamia, and has been dated back as far as 3800 BC. Central to the city is the Ziggurat, or great temple, was built as a shrine to the cities main deity, the moon god “Nanna”. Mud brick was the main material used

Once a part of a greater temple complex, the Ziggurat was first excavated in the 1850′s, and began restoration works in the 1980′s. It is considered the most well preserved archaeological site in the Iraq region. 

Photographing beautiful people is so freaking amazing! You just want to keep capturing them in every move they make, in moments where they least expect it, because that’s when they’re being the most beautiful. They’re being nothing else but themselves not trying to hard.

IRAQ. Baghdad governorate. Baghdad. April 14, 2003. Twelve-year-old Ali Abbas, then treated at the Baghdad Hospital, has lost both arms during the American bombing of the city and has sustained serious burns over his body.

Ali Abbas still remembers the day his childhood changed forever, however much he might wish to forget. It was March 30, 2003. He was 12, “Just a little kid, enjoying my life, going to school, playing football, with lots of friends…”

He had fallen asleep with [pregnant] mum Azhar, dad Ismaeel, and ten-year-old brother Abbas all sleeping reassuringly close to him in the same room. Even now he doesn’t know why the Americans fired the missile. Their home, on the southern fringe of Baghdad, wasn’t near any sort of military base.

“We were farmers. There were cows and sheep outside. They should have seen what was down there. I was woken up by this big noise. All the house collapsed on us. My home was on fire. Then I heard the screaming.”

It was his mum and dad.

“I heard them screaming. Then after a couple of minutes, the screaming stopped. They were gone.”

“I was burning,” he continues. “My arms were basically roasted. After maybe 20 minutes, my neighbour came to try to pull me out of the rubble. He didn’t realise how badly I had been burned. So when he tried to pull me by my left hand, it came off.”

His mother, father, and little brother were dead. So too were 13 other members of his family. Both Ali’s arms had to be amputated. He had suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body. The doctors doubted he would survive.

And yet, he says, “I was lucky. There are thousands like me in Iraq. Or even worse than me. So many innocent people killed.”

His first stroke of “luck” came in the form of a hospital nurse, Karem.

“All the doctors were running away, but he stayed. He brought me food, paid for cream and bandages for my burns with his own money.”

Then the Western journalists came. Of all the images flooding in from Iraq, it was his photo and not that of another child that caught the eye of the picture editors, and the imagination of the British public. There was an outpouring of sympathy, a successful campaign to bring “Orphan Ali” to the UK for proper treatment.

At one charity event, he even got to meet Tony Blair.

“His wife did most of the talking. I just said ‘Hi’. I didn’t know much then. I think I was about 14, still a kid.”

He’s not a kid any more. Ali Abbas is a 25-year-old man now. And on the eve of Sir John Chilcot finally delivering his report into the Iraq War [in 2016], Mr Abbas knows exactly what he would want to ask Tony Blair.

“I would want to know from him whether he regrets what he has done. I would want him to tell me why he did it.” [x]

Photograph: Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos