MTV - March 26, 2003
Walid and Saif haven't seen or spoken to their friends in days. They haven't watched a movie or surfed the Net, either. In fact, they've hardly gone out of their parents' sight or left their houses at all in five days.
Walid and Saif aren't being grounded for a poor report card or missing curfew. Walid and Saif live in Baghdad.
"It's scary," said 21-year-old Saif over the telephone on Monday. "We're in a war. We're afraid of bombing."
"No one can leave the house," Walid, 17, explained. "It's too dangerous."
Walid and Saif live in residential neighborhoods in the Iraq capital, and when bombs and missiles began to drop overhead in the pre-dawn hours Thursday, they braced themselves in their homes. They couldn't see the exploding targets of the U.S.-led air strike, but the sounds — sounds they have heard in the skies before — were unmistakable. Their city was under attack.
They claim that little damage has been done to their neighborhood, though Saif said his neighbors found a piece of a missile in their yard. He hasn't left the house since Friday's "shock & awe" air raid.
"In my home, there's no getting out," Saif said. "I'm just at home with my family talking. Nothing except sitting at home."
MTV News' Gideon Yago spoke with Walid while the massive attack was underway. They were able to talk for only 37 seconds before the line cut out, and the worst was feared. Three days later, contact was re-established and worries about Walid's safety subsided for the time being.
"For some people, it was really horrible," Walid said of the days following Friday's attack, "because it's getting worse day after day."
Walid seemed to be handling the situation without much panic, surprising given that his father is in the military.
"I don't know, but I have a feeling he's going to make it," he said, with little else to cling to.
Walid's three younger brothers, however, aren't so calm.
"Children, when they hear these loud sounds and rockets and all these bombs, they are going to be afraid," he said. "So it's hard to comfort them and to tell them that everything is going to be all right."
Both Walid and Saif are trying to make the most of their very unfortunate situation by listening to music and reading books. They've been keeping themselves informed about the war through Iraqi and Iranian TV. And they do a lot of praying.
Walid is in a band, but his dreams of rock stardom have been replaced with prayers that his guitar player, an Iraqi soldier, can soon trade his rifle for a six-string.
"I'm really worried about him," Walid said. "He's a soldier, so, you know, he might get killed."
In such difficult times, it's hard to speculate on the future. "Will a resolution be reached?" often takes a backseat to "Will I make it through another day?"
"No one can tell, it's kind of a mystery," Walid said when asked when he thinks the war will subside. "Every day, something new just appears ... No one knows what's going to happen. Absolutely no one.
"Maybe you will know," he said to MTV News' John Norris on the phone, "because your government made the situation over here, but we don't. We're just defending ourselves."
MTV News first met Saif and Walid in late February, through the television show "Bridge to Baghdad" (www.bridgetobaghdad.org). The program, a DCTV and "Chat the Planet" special that was co-produced by NextNext Entertainment, can be seen on satellite TV channel Worldlink TV on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.