Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not As Green As Before

From an interesting account of life in Baghdad's safe haven, the "Green Zone":

Fear permeates the lives of the Iraqis who remain inside the walls. Some have long since lost their jobs working for contractors or the Army but won't leave the Green Zone because too many of their neighbors and relatives know they worked for the U.S., and they are afraid of being killed. The Iraqis who live here have a simple word, barra, that they use over and over again to refer to the rest of Baghdad outside the Green Zone. It means "out there." If they were anywhere but Iraq, their stories would sound like paranoid delusions. All the gates are watched, they say. Their names are on hit lists. One woman, who used to do laundry for a British security firm and now lives in an abandoned market stall with her three children, has received messages on her cell phone telling her "Your blood will wash all over your body." She's afraid to go out of the Green Zone because of the threats, and since she lost her job and handed in her ID badge, she wouldn't be able to get back in without an escort.

Pretty soon, the choice may be made for her. The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq claimed in an April 13 statement to have had "support troops" that infiltrated the Green Zone to launch the attack on the parliament cafeteria. As a result, squatters who continue to live in the Green Zone without official permission are now considered an unacceptable security risk. A family that fled the first battle of Fallujah in 2004 was told last week by U.S. military police that by June 1 they will have to leave the hallway they converted into an apartment or they'll be kicked out.


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