LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq - March 12, 2005
Mahir Ibrahimov came to the United States in l993 from his homeland of Azerbaijan, a republic of the former Soviet Union, with his wife, daughter and a dream of opportunity.
Eleven years after moving to America, he volunteered to help defend his country, the United States, the best way he knew how: by becoming a contracted linguist for the Army in Iraq.
“After 9/11, I felt it was very important to be helpful any way I could,” Ibrahimov said.” I feel that this is a very important mission at this time. Nothing is a more important than the events here in Iraq and around Iraq.”
Ibrahimov’s striving to help the United States is not a recent trend for him; his previous employment consistently benefited his new homeland.
To come to Iraq, Ibrahimov left his job teaching foreign languages at the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department. Prior to that, he was a consultant to several American companies engaged in international business and the president of the Educational and Business Center in Washington, DC.
Ibrahimov has made education an integral part of his life, from teaching to his extensive studies with several accredited universities around the world.
Along with his master’s degree, Ibrahimov is also a qualified Arabic and English linguist. He is fluent in Russian, Azerbaijani and Turkish and can communicate in another five languages from the Turkic linguistic family.
He holds a doctorate from The Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow in international relations and political science and has taken educational classes from the School of Advanced International Studies – affiliated with Johns Hopkins University – and the World Politics Institute in Washington, D.C.
“All the classes I’ve taken and studied lately were related to international relations and political science,” Ibrahimov said. “My master’s degree was in international journalism plus linguistics of foreign languages.”
His proficiency in languages has earned him the nickname “Genius” by the civil affairs unit he is contracted to, while enabling him to actively participate in experiencing the regional cultures of Iraq.
“Getting to know the differences and particularities in all three customs is very interesting to me,” he said.
Since his arrival in Iraq on April 21, 2004, his travels with civil affairs and other units have taken him across Iraq, including Baghdad and many small villages
“My opinion is, when I want to know about a country, I don’t want to go to the big cities because all big cities are the same in all the countries,” he said. “In order to understand better their customs and culture, it is better to go to the villages; that is where you can feel the cultural spark of the people.”
Ibrahimov said that he is in the process of writing a book on his experiences here, along with insights and nuances of the cultures he has experienced.
“This is a new, unique experience to add to my life,” he said. “I’ve had good jobs, but I’ve never been in this kind of situation.”
Working on his book means more to Ibrahimov than just sharing what he’s seen; it expands on his life’s ambitions and passions.
“Education is something that requires persistence,” Ibrahimov said. “All my life, I’ve been doing something every day; either practicing my languages, writing articles or my book, or reading something just for enrichment.”
He also writes poetry and short stories and plays the piano when time allows him the luxury to enjoy his hobbies.
He said his pursuit of education has kept him busy for many years and that everyone has to continuously practice to maintain knowledge.
“It’s not just about getting the degree. After getting the degree, the process is not over. People need to maintain themselves intellectually all their lives,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov has been a contributing writer to Washington International on international relations in the Caucuses.
The writer of this reprinted article, Pfc. Trevino, is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. who is deployed to Iraq in support of units at LSA Anaconda. Source: US Central Command.