This week my husband and another engineer are doing some updating of technical training for an Iraqi engineer, known as Abu Danny. Abu, by the way, means "father of" so there's your cocktail party trivia when you need an icebreaker.
A little background is in order. My husband is an engineer in the evil oil business. He travels the world disguised as Superman, bringing oil drilling rigs back on line to produce the world's fossil fuel products. He's been to locales good and bad. He deals with people around the world, good and bad. In 2003, just weeks before the beginning of the Iraq invasion, he was sent to Iraq to help some engineers working in Iraq's oil industry. Abu Danny was among those with whom he worked. My husband was in Baghdad, Tikrit and Basrah. He saw all three sections of the country.
Most Iraqis were welcoming but a bit standoffish towards the American among them. After decades under the thumb of Saddam, this is completely understandable. In Baghdad he was the sole American at his hotel and viewed through curious eyes of the locals. Was he a spy for the CIA? What was he doing there? He was spoken to with soft voices and out of the view of watchful cameras installed in the hotel.
Abu Danny took my husband under his wing and played host to him. Abu Danny welcomed my husband into his home and made my husband a special guest at the birthday party and dinner for his son on the occasion of his birthday celebration. He was treated to good food, conversations, and warm hospitality.
Abu Danny is an Armenian Christian Iraqi. He is neither Arab nor Muslim. He is among the smallest of minorites in Iraq. The commonly referred to groups, the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurds, all accept this minority of fellow Iraqis. So far so good, anyway. This would make sense as Saddam was not a fanatic in the Islamo facist mold.
Abu Danny suffered the loss of his wife of 30 years about 6 months ago. She died of cancer. His married daughter has moved to the Detroit area. His married son lives in a nearby apartment in Baghdad. Most of his family has moved to Jordan. Abu Danny continues on in his work. He is a busy man. He is also going through the process to obtain a green card to live in our country.
Abu Danny says the situation in Baghdad is very bad. He thinks the country will just divide up into the three state solution, especially since the Kurds in the north are living in their own country now anyway. The Kurds have their own flag and government set up. Abu Danny says our American soldiers are magnificent. They are young and scared but kind and courteous to the people. He worries about them. He worries for his country. He worries.
Abu Danny was in a car and shot by American soldiers at the beginning of the war. He bears no grudge. He said he was dealing with bad guys due to his work and knows the soldiers could not distinguish him from the others. When Abu Danny went to get his visa to come here he was appalled at the Muslims that were being issued visas by the Americans. He said to my husband and another engineer during a lunch time conversation Monday: "Don't you have any sense about the people you are allowing into your country?"
As I said, he is not a Muslim. He has no love for Muslims. He is astonished that Americans are not wising up to the dangers we face.
He will leave Houston at the end of the week and go to Michigan to visit his daughter. My husband and the other engineer are hoping to finish the training today rather than tomorrow so that Abu Danny can head out a day early.
As an aside: My husband and the other engineer take Abu Danny out for meals and at breakfast yesterday bacon was Abu Danny's food of choice! He couldn't get enough of it. Pork, of course, not readily available in Iraq and much too expensive for the people if it is found.
You would be proud to call Abu Danny friend.