Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Invasion Kuwait – Jihan Rajab

I have one very ragged copy of Jihan Rajab’s Invasion Kuwait which she published in 1996. All my house guests have been given an opportunity to read it, and not one single one has been other than blown-away.

When you look at Kuwait today, there is no sign that the disasterous invasion took place. The invasion and occupation are barely a blip on the screen of modern history, to those who were not involved.

And yet – when you listen to those who went through it, there are tales of sheer heroism. If you get the conversation started, in a group, you can hear hair-raising tales, heartbreaking tales, told by the people who went through it.

I had to buy the book through Amazon.com because I looked all over Kuwait and couldn’t find it, not even at the Tarek Rajab museum. When I bought it, I bought it used, because there were no new copies available, but this morning when I went to include the book in the Warrior Women post, I found that you can now buy it new, and I decided it was worth a post of it’s own. It is well worth a read, and it makes Kuwait so much more alive when you pass sites mentioned in the book and remember what took place there in Rajab’s book.

I have read one other book detailing the horrorific experience in Kuwait, but that is all. Are there others? Are there books on the invasion, and the individual experiences, written in Arabic?

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September 3, 2007 Posted by | Books, Community, Counter-terrorism, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Political Issues | 15 Comments

Levantine/Gulf/Persian Warrior Women?

I’m still reading Sarum, by Edward Rutherford, although I am nearing the end. I am still thinking back to a fictional character – I think she is fictional because when I Google’d her name, I got the name of an English queen, but not this particular Aelfgifu.

In Sarum, Aelfgifu is a warrior woman. As a young girl, she hangs out with all the guys, rides with them, hunts with them, and is accepted by them. When the Vikings raid, she fights them. The Vikings are astounded, and more than a little angry, to be fought – successfully – by a woman. Later, her father reluctantly allows her to ride with the men to counter another Viking raid – they need all the “men” they can get, and she is one of the best.

I am intrigued. History shows that these exceptional women pop up now and then, and usually just at the right time. Joan of Arc for the French, the Amazons, Apache women warriors in Native American lore, Chinese Tang dynasty warrior women, Masai warrior women in Africa. We have women in the US Army, and I often hear their commanders say “some of my best men are women.”

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It was hard to find a good warrior women illustration which had women with their clothes on. Most of the illustrator, I guess, being men, they protray women warriors in scanty attire, and most of them have exaggerated breasts and hips, and tiny little wasp waists, and legs about twice as long as a normal woman. Sort of Barbie-doll in warrior women attire. *she snorts in disgust* Leaves a fighter a little vulnerable, don’t you think, fighting in a metal bra and tiny little loincloth? That metal would get uncomfortable in no time, and man, how can you ride a horse for very long without chafing your legs? But then reality wouldn’t sell the drawing, would it?

OK, OK, back to the real question – Warrior women pop up in all cultures. I think that is true, but when I think of the Arabian Gulf, or Persia, or the Levant, no one comes to mind, other than Sheherezad, but she triumphed by her wits, not her brawn, not her fighting skills. I remember hearing that nomadic women could be fierce; are there not legends of Bedouin women?

Is there a woman / are there women who were legendary fighters in Middle East culture? Are there women in Persian culture who fought, or held a castle, or were otherwise brave in the face of danger? Speak now!

September 3, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cross Cultural, Iran, Kuwait, Middle East, Poetry/Literature, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized, Women's Issues | 34 Comments