Print this page
Friday, 19 July 2013 10:47

Change Agents – An Unlikely Hero

Phil Black from CNN News brought the Middle Eastern story of a Baghdad traffic cop from Good Morning Middle East and onto the international stage, describing him as an “unlikely but effective hero in a city that needs a lot of them”. The traffic official he is referring to is General Amar Al Kayet. General Amar  is an ordinary man in Iraq’s Baghdad who has taken an extraordinary stand to save the lives of people travelling in vehicles on Baghdad’s perilous streets.

Baghdad’s streets are not only congested with angry, hot and impatient drivers caught in gridlock nearly every day, but the streets are also plagued with the dangers of speeding military convoys, violence and murder. The casualties of Iraqi traffic police are high. So high that Iraq’s  Traffic Police Directorate has established a web page which honours the traffic martyrs who have been killed in the line of duty at

From inside the ranks of  this dangerous profession, General Amar has emerged as an unlikely icon of social change. Rather than being described as a traffic cop, he is described by Baghdad citizens as “the moral compass of Baghdad”, working on the streets and on local television commentating on driving conditions. What makes General Amar’s traffic reports extraordinary in this city, is his fearless approach to criticising poor driver behaviour. Even the poor driving behaviour of police officials is not exempt from his public criticism.   This is no ordinary feat in a city where confronting a driver could see you killed.

The public welcomes the integrity of his open and  honest approach. They deeply appreciate that his main concern is about saving lives.  As one bystander reports, the General causes people to think twice about their driving behaviour - like putting on their seat belts while driving.

What was it that compelled the General to shift his job from traffic cop to the bigger cause of saving lives?… He claims that his turning point was the impact of  his son’s death from a 2008 roadside bombing.

Such a tragedy could have easily blackened his perspective and left him resentful, vengeful and bitter. Instead he decides every day that he is driven by a bigger  bigger purpose –  the power to turn this tragedy into the triumph of saving lives through traffic policing.

This is more than a story of a traffic cop. Its a story about how perspective can turn tragedy into triumph. It’s also a lesson about how we can each make a difference  if we choose to change our perspective from doing a job  to having a purpose which is bigger than ourselves.

Check out the Video here:

Iraq\’s celebrity traffic cop

How do you inspire and motivate other people to embrace change in today’s turmoil and uncertainty?  Find out in A Climate for Change.   Download FREE Sample Chapters at