Hostile Fire

Free Hostile Fire by Keith Douglass

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Authors: Keith Douglass
had to have their faces covered in public,” Murdock said.
    “That’s a general misconception about Iraq,” the instructor said. “For decades now Iraqi women have enjoyed greater equality and opportunity than have the women of neighboring Arab countries such as Iran and Syria. Iraqi women have struggled for equal rights for nearly a hundred years. Women in Iraq began taking positions in the mainstream job market as early as the 1920s.
    “Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, these rights continued. Men and women receive the same salary when doing the same job, and many pursue professions usually thought to be for men. Iraqi women are not required to cover themselves from head to toe the way women are in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Women also receive five years’ maternity leave from their employers.
    “At the same time, United Nations sanctions against Iraq have created enormous suffering among women and children. Traditionally women had only one job, but now many must hold down two or even three to feed their families. Women-headed families are not uncommon in Iraq, which lost many soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and again in the Gulf War in 1991. A schoolteacher who once could live relatively well on her salary must now take in sewing and bake goods to sell for extra money. The government makes rations available for the needy, but these last only about ten days a month.
    “In Iraq women may hold down jobs outside the home, may drive cars, girls go to school, and they can move aboutoutside the home without a male relative. All of these rights are not granted to women in fundamentalist Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
    “So, when you go into Baghdad, expect to see many women on the streets, and in jobs and doing ordinary things that they couldn’t do in other Arab nations.
    “However, this is not Hillsboro, Michigan. Iraq is still a military dictatorship. Voting is done for one party and one candidate. The men run the military and the military runs the country. Many laws are strict and the punishment harsh and not fair by Western standards. Soldiers from the army and from the elite Republican Guard are frequently seen on the streets enforcing laws, arresting people, and maintaining the rule of the military.
    “After lunch, we’ll start our language units, and we will speak nothing but Arabic. Next this morning we have two more films on Iraq. One is from the Iraqi Ministry of Information, so take it all with a large dose of disbelief. It does show Baghdad today in some of its best sides. So watch it closely. The signs won’t mean much to you, but relate them to what is going on in the named store or shop. Pay close attention to the restaurant where a jazz combo is playing Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong songs. That may sound weird, but it is happening in Baghdad. Listen up.”
    The two films turned out to be videos and not the slickest production, but good enough to get across the points the makers wanted to show, and to give the three SEALs a lot more information about Iraq.
    At noon they went to the visiting chow line and found the rest of the platoon.
    “Hey look, ladies,” Jaybird shouted. “We’ve got visitors from outer space.”
    Murdock bellowed a sharp command at him in Arabic and Jaybird jolted back a step, then the platoon laughed at him. Murdock saw one new member of the platoon. The person was smaller than the rest, dressed the same in desert cammies, but he could see short brown hair sticking out below her floppy hat.
    “Hey, Garnet,” Murdock called.
    Katherine, “Kat” Garnet turned and grinned. “About timeyou showed up, Commander. We’ve been holding the chow line until you got here. My, you’ve developed quite a tan since I saw you last.” He said hello to her in Arabic and held out his hand. She smiled and gave him a hug instead.
    She was the same Kat. About five-eight with brown eyes, a tempered athlete’s body under the cammies. She did iron woman triathlons

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