Personal Biography

 “I happened to be at the right place at the right time.” I am sure you’ve heard this phrase many times, and, yet, it summarizes my experience almost perfectly. However, the “right place” in my experience happened to be war zones.

When I was a child fleeing the civil war in Lebanon with my family, I learned a lot about ethnic and sectarian conflicts. At an early age, I was exposed to complex concepts, such as ethnic cleansings and sectarian war.  

My head was full of questions. Since no-one was able to answer my questions, I resorted to books. My father had a large library consisting of more than a 5,000 book. I think I read the Social Contract by Rousseau, I was eight years old 

Learning by Example

I also learned by example. My mother had a strong personality. She was a believer in peace.   However, she was living in the Middle East, a region of continuous violence. My mom stood up for me when I needed her. When a teacher hit me because I was writing with my left hand, in Iraq, writing with your left hand is a bad omen, my mom told the teacher, “Don’t you dare hit my child again.” I was left alone to write with my left hand.

Living Under Saddam's Regime

Moving to Iraq and living under Saddam’s regime from 1979 to 2003 (which is considered one of the most brutal regimes in the 20th Century) was a life-changing experience. I was able to examine, how the regime retaliated against innocent people and most importantly, why they did. 

Different Types of Conflicts 

During this time, I also examined a new type of conflict: interstate conflict. I experienced the longest war in the 20th Century, the Iraq-Iran war, from 1980 to 1988. I saw disputes, chemical weapons, political rhetoric, and the role of culture and religion on both sides; Iraq and Iran.
I witnessed the first Gulf War (1990-1991), and I saw that the dynamics of this war were a combination of the civil war and interstate war. I was living in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was among many Iraqis who opposed Saddam's regime

The Women Movement 

I also examined the role of women who occupied men’s jobs during the war, very few made it to the top, and then, of course, I saw these women stepping down when men returned from the war front.  
Following the fall of Saddam's regime, women earned the right become Ministers, Ambassadors, and Directors again. Yet, they had to live in an unsafe environment. 

After the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, I joined the women’s movement to demand more rights, including the right to run for an office and participate in public life.  I attended meetings to organize the movement all over Iraq. I talked to the media, met policymakers, wrote op-eds, organized workshops to empower women and train them, and suggested policy change and reform.  I must say, I learned a lot from the wonderful women I worked with. I also learned from the average Iraqi woman, believe me, she is brave.

The Iraqi Government

When the Interim Iraqi Government was put together, I was surprised that my name was on the table. I was selected as the Minister of the Environment. I earned the reputation of standing up for causes no-one else cared for. Iraq didn't have an agency to protect the environment because it was perceived as a luxury item.  The struggle to protect the environment resulted in me being the most wanted person by Al-Qaeda! Just Add WaterI guess you can know a lot about me from reading my posts. 

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