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Saddam Hussein and Pepsi

Ahmad-Al-Sarraf

Journalist Fadhel Al-Nashmi wrote a short summary about a book written by Saddam Hussein’s granddaughter Hareer Hussein Kamel, or perhaps written on her behalf by others, which included praise for her father and her grandfather, and the latter who betrayed the former and killed him, what a family!

I went over quickly what Al-Nashmi wrote, but I was stopped short by a paragraph where the writer said on page 10 that her grandfather (Saddam) did not allow his family to drink Pepsi during the era of the economic siege because he thought it was a shame to prevent the Iraqis from drinking Pepsi while it is on his table and that of his family.

The paragraph took me back more than thirty years in history, when I was shopping for some rare items from a small and elegant supermarket, located at Al-Sha’ab Al-Bahari, next to the Roche Popoa showroom before the two closed for two different reasons.

The supermarket was run by a nice Iraqi Assyrian who was keen to bring the best and most expensive items. I noticed that the quantities of expensive and quality foods, such as caviar, salmon, and even special ice cream, far outweighed the requirements of the area’s residents.

The store’s customers were not so many at all and shoppers were rare, especially in the basement where the owner used to put on his chest a large picture of Saddam with a stylish suit. I established friendship with the owner of the shop, especially after I facilitated banking matters to him and I bought from him a Cuban cigar from time to time, because he kept huge quantities of the finest types, and this was a surprise.

When I asked him one day if he was really making any profit, with all that precious and expensive stuffs despite few shoppers, he smiled and did not answer.

The next day, as I was getting closer to him, he reminded me of my question about the feasibility of keeping all those precious foodstuffs, and said I would get a good answer if I were in the supermarket at nine on a Sunday evening.

I was really curious and I was there on time. I found a small van with diplomatic plates standing in front of the shop, with two men inside. Their shape and moustaches suggested their partisan affiliation (Ba’ath). One of them entered the shop and the other stayed by the side of the vehicle as if watching the road.

I left the place and sat in my car a little further to watch what was going on. I saw large quantities of stuffs being brought out of the shop and carefully placed inside the air-con vehicle.

I left the place and returned to the Assyrian friend two days later. He smiled when he saw me and asked me with a signal from his hand to follow him to the basement, and there he said in a whisper-like voice that the small van belongs to the Iraqi Embassy.

He added, it comes every week and buys all the food and stuffs, with no question about the price, and he believed that all were sent to the President of necessity, Saddam, on a private plane, to enjoy the pleasures of life at the expense of the Iraqi people who suffer from famine, and then comes Hareer Hussein Kamel and says in her diaries that her grandfather was refusing to enjoy drinking Pepsi after the Iraqis were deprived of it. What is that?

e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

By Ahmad alsarraf

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