Where Dread Fills the Air

On the eve of what looks like war, the inhabitants of Baghdad hope for the best but prepare for the worst

Jamil Roubayee, a 32-year-old doctor, glances around the emergency room and tugs nervously at the stethoscope in the pocket of his white coat. On one side of the ward lie four elderly men who were rushed to Baghdad's biggest hospital, the 12-story, powder blue Saddam Hussein Medical Center, after suffering heart attacks. On the other side are two ailing women as well as a little boy afflicted with sickle-cell anemia. Because of the international blockade against Iraq, Roubayee says, the hospital lacks antibiotics and other medicines necessary to treat the patients. At least one of the men will soon die, he...

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