About Me

My name is Yasmine Mousa, an Iraqi-Canadian caught in the crosshairs of fate.  I graduated from university in Iraq as a civil engineer,  then I embarked on a career as an engineer at Baghdad's illustrious multinational construction project, where success seemed within reach.

Yet, fate had a different plan. It was during this time that the devastating Iraq-Iran conflict erupted, a merciless eight-year ordeal. Amidst the chaos and destruction, I was forced to abandon my dream job in 1992 as Iraq's economy crumbled under the weight of wars and embargoes. Construction became a tool exclusively wielded by a tyrant regime. Nearly a decade after my graduation, I returned to college, donning the role of a site engineer while raising three children. It was during this chapter that I earned a degree in linguistics, focusing on translation, a departure from my comfort zone of numbers to the realm of words, my Achilles' heel.

I traversed various paths in my career, serving as a press officer for a Western European entity in Baghdad until 2002, assuming roles as a bureau manager and correspondent for esteemed publications like the Washington Post in Amman, Jordan, from 2004 to 2008, and the New York Times in my beloved Baghdad from 2010 to 2012. Currently, I work for the Immigration and Refugee Boards in Toronto, my newfound home. 

I arrived in this land later in life, devoid of the privileges granted to those born and raised here or educated in its prestigious institutions. We did not apply for immigration to Canada for a better life, but rather for a chance at life itself, for the sake of our children, as my late husband used to remind me. Yet, despite my unconventional path, I hold expectations. Even after leaving Iraq in the summer of 2003, following a lifetime marred by wars and unimaginable hardships, Iraq never truly left me. It resides deep within my heart, a homage to the Iraq of my childhood, the Iraq that held untapped promise before the torrents of war unleashed their havoc.

Decades of war, embargo, corruption, and isolation have affected generations of Iraqis. An ancient land where scars haven't healed, because the wound is still fresh. It still goes on. And it's still affecting us.

We've learned to use humour to brush off the horror, community to combat corruption, and ingenuity to cope with insufficiency. We've lost homes, loved ones, livelihoods. We've even lost our identity.

But we carry on.

Every new day becomes a triumph. And behind every victory is a story worth telling.

I write to make sense of the past. I write to give a voice to the millions of Iraqis who know that particular suffering that comes with war, and who carry it with them still. I write to inspire hope, hope that it's all been for something.

I write because I know underneath it all, there is one thing we all share no matter what life brings.

Our humanity.

My Return

My return to Baghdad after a seven-year absence was a whirlwind of mixed emotions and reflections. The journey from my comfortable life in Niagara Falls, Canada, back to the city where I once lived until the summer of 2003 was physically and emotionally exhausting.

As I disembarked from the plane, a sense of fear, disorientation, and bewilderment washed over me. I was stepping into the unknown, yet there was a strange comfort in being back in a place that held so many memories.

As opposed to tradition, no relative or friend was meeting me at the airport except for Jed, a British security guard from NYT. Afore, a throng of well-wishers were at the arrival or departures.

Once at the New York Times office, my thoughts were racing the keyboard. For every word I managed to put down, there were countless more left untold. My thoughts flowed raw and unpolished, mirroring my sentiments.

Much had changed in Baghdad during my absence, yet some things remained the same, like the faint fragrance of the morning dew.

Returning to Baghdad was a journey into the past, a reckoning with the present, and an uncertain glimpse into the future. It was a moment that demanded to be documented, and that's what I did, capturing the essence of my return in a blog for the New York Times.

Why This Blog

This blog stands as a testament to the Iraq that resides within me, an Iraq shrouded in secrecy, unknown to the world. Throughout the years, Iraq has commanded global attention, and thrust into the limelight due to its abundant resources, diverse terrain, rich history, and complex demographics. Yet, amidst this spotlight, the perspective of ordinary Iraqis, trapped in the crossfire, has remained unseen, living through a lifelong saga with an uncertain ending. How did resolutions, both internal and international, shape our lives, despite our limited influence over their creation?

As we commemorate two decades since our lives shattered into fragments, a sense of loss still permeates the hearts of many immigrants. We mourn the lives that were taken, the loved ones we lost, the homes reduced to rubble, the shattered livelihoods, and the erosion of our identity.

Within this perpetual spotlight, the line between truth and fiction often blurs, leaving the audience bewildered. It becomes crucial to delve into the depths of these narratives and uncover the truth. Take, for instance, the conclusion of the Iraq-Iran conflict. The world believed Iraq possessed the sixth most powerful military force, while the reality proved to be far from it. The notion of weapons of mass destruction sparked numerous discussions, even conversations I had with experts involved in relevant committees. The resilience we demonstrated during the 1990s embargo, by enduring its hardships: only to be profoundly impacted by the invasion of 2003. It may seem like ancient history, but its aftermath continues to reverberate.

The international embargo imposed on Iraq forced us to confront the daunting challenges of food scarcity and lack of medical supplies. We navigated treacherous paths in an attempt to compensate for our state's inadequacy. We did not willingly embrace the United Nations Security Council resolutions; rather, we were compelled to enforce them, enduring the tribulations that accompanied such compliance.