Editor's note: in this issue, the Post's man in Kuwait, the indefatigable Sheikh
Ya'erbuti, attends a raucous public holiday (along with his nervous camel), runs
into a brace of drunken journalists, and wakes up near the Iraqi border.
It was a merry party. Ku-waitis celebrating their 12th Liberation Day with the prospect
that Saddam Hussein won't be around for another year. Black Label flowed (legal exemptions
were made for friends of the Emir) and roasted camel was delivered on a 30-foot silver
platter, all served by Waqil whom I had lent to my hosts at the Hilton for the evening.
My camel was none too impressed by dinner and left.
In bumbled - albeit in a BMW limousine complete with driver, on-board computers,
television and Global Positioning Systems - the notorious hacks Lindsay Murdoch and
Luke Hunt. Both had discarded the comforts of reporting from five-star retreats embedded
with the Marines and were plotting to catch up with the equally uncouth friend of
the Phnom Penh Post Nate Thayer, whom I am told is residing in my room at the al-Rashid
Hotel in Baghdad.
The rest is fog. The two Australians stole my Chivas and forced me into toasting
the silly fools with betrothed war brides. Murdoch is getting married to Miss Feni
Hawati, and another occasional Cambodian drop-in Karl Malakunas will wed Miss Amy
Chung - once that blight Saddam is removed.
I vaguely remember Hunt offering the 32nd toast and asking a guest, Captain Jacov
of the Marines, if he expected to make Major soon. Then nothing.
I woke up Shanghai-ed, parked under an Abrams tank somewhere in the deserts of northern
Kuwait, with a tongue that tasted like lino glue. Waqil at my boot, and my camel,
who has since been dubbed Spit after escaping roast dinner, nearby.
Obviously, I asked for directions to the Hilton but was told "Nothin' doin',
Sir." Murdoch and company had crossed my t's and dumped me with a Marine combat
unit within a hand grenade's throw of the border.
Even my good friends, the Emir and Colonel Ricky Thomas (who can't be quoted), failed
me and now I'm a Marine, with a shiny badge.
Ricky's friends said not to worry, the war will start immediately after that nuisance
of a deadline, March 17, passes and a celebration feast will be held within a few
days. As another tawdry Marine wrote on his helmet: "There's beer in Baghdad."
A drop of mellow red would be preferable, but by living with the Marines one does
pick up on the odd item that would normally escape the halls of my usual comforts.
Here's one: the 82nd Airborne captain who was conducting a live-fire operation on
the border when he noticed a jeep with a white flag billowing from the back and making
an approach from the wrong side of the border.
An Iraqi officer disembarked and they met. The Iraqi and his three men wanted to
give themselves up, but were told they were "too early"as the starter's
whistle hadn't blown. The hapless chaps were compelled to go, but invited to come
back once the bombing started.
So they left. The 82nd were also delighted after the Iraqi officer pointed out on
his departure a clean trail through what they had assumed was a heavily-mined section
of Iraqi soil.
My camel, Spit, and my subversive friend, Waqil, were equally thrilled with the news,
and so I have promised them it is the demined path the three of us shall tread on
our seemingly inexorable journey to Baghdad. Until next time, dear readers, farewell.