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[casi] Resentment on streets of Baghdad

Resentment on streets of Baghdad

By Owen Bennett Jones
BBC correspondent in Baghdad
Monday April 14th 2003

One week after American troops entered Baghdad, the people of the city are
still waiting to hear what form of government the Americans are planning for

"We need a government. The last week was a disaster. The Americans should
have made arrangements for what they planned to do now," said a civil
servant who didn't want to be named.

He rejected the American plan to have a transitional military government run
by a retired general, Jay Garner.

"Why should an American general come here? Iraqis should govern themselves."

On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis agree with him. "Why should the
Americans rule us?" asked one man, a teacher.

"They say they came here to liberate us. We have paid a heavy price for the
removal of Saddam Hussein, so the Americans should go now."

The growing anti-American sentiment is a result not only of the military
campaign and the casualties that it caused, there is also acute resentment
that the Americans have allowed a situation to develop in which there is
looting and continued insecurity in the Iraqi capital.

The US marines have secured a limited area, just a few blocks of buildings,
in the centre of the city, but elsewhere there is great insecurity.

'Fayed is dead'

US marines are still coming under fire from Saddam Hussein loyalists and
some residents of Baghdad are wondering whether the fighting could go on for
weeks or even months.

Some are trying to organise security for themselves. Doctors armed with
Kalashnikovs are guarding their hospitals. Elsewhere armed civilians have
set up road blocks to deter looting.

But those manning the check points say they fear the Americans will see
their weapons, mistake them for Saddam Hussein loyalists, and shoot them

The sense of uncertainty is not helped by the fact that throughout Baghdad
families are coming to terms with the casualties caused by the war.

In a middle class district in the north of the city, I witnessed a professor
of politics, Moyed al-Windawi, tell his two daughters that one of their
friends who lived on the same street, a 16-year-old boy called Fayed, had
died as the result of injuries sustained when the Americans came in.

"Fayed is dead," he said. "He is dead." His daughters at first did not
believe him.

"He was gorgeous," said one. "I played football with him, and Playstation.
What will his brothers think?"

While many Iraqis grieve, the Americans are still working on their plans for
the governance of Iraq.

Many believe that there will be a prominent role for the Iraqi National
Congress, an organisation made up of Iraqi exiles, many of whom opposed
Saddam Hussein from abroad. But on the streets of Baghdad there is little
support for the INC.

"Why should we be governed by people who have got rich in London and New
York?" said one. "We must have someone who comes from Iraq and who has
suffered with us."

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