July 29, 2003

HERE’S A REPORT THAT IRAQIS ARE RUSHING TO LEARN ENGLISH:

Few soldiers have a command of Arabic and misunderstandings have been blamed for more than one fatal checkpoint shooting.

But Sajida has other aims in learning a language she feels will open up a world previously closed to her by Saddam.

”If I have any information about Fedayeen or Saddam’s followers, I must tell them. We must make friends with the Americans. I see them as angels. I call them God’s army,” said Sajida, a Shi’ite Muslim who says her two brothers were killed by Saddam. . . .

Iraqi English teacher Dhia’ Saadallah prefers a British accent, but says that’s not the popular choice. ”I teach them American English. What can I do? They want it,” he said.

The story’s not all good news, but this suggests that Iraqis expect us to stay, which means that the effort by Ba’athist remnants and their Wahhabi sympathizers to chase Americans out isn’t likely to succeed.