Monday, April 09, 2007

Perspective: An Iraqi's firsthand view of a U.S. sweep

Soldiers search a house in Baghdad's Ghazaliya neighborhood on March 23. The primarily Sunni area has been subject to weeks of house searches.

It was 7:30 a.m. and I was sound asleep when the troops arrived on my street.

My neighbor called me on the cellphone and said, "The Americans are blocking the street." Because I speak English, he thought I might go talk to them and find out whether we would be allowed to go to work that day.

I stayed in bed 15 more minutes Saturday morning, wondering what to do. It was nice that my neighbors counted on me to help in situations like this, but it was a delicate thing to approach U.S. soldiers. What if they thought I was a suicide bomber?

I live on the edge of Ghazaliya, a Sunni Arab neighborhood in the westernmost part of Baghdad where there are often bombings and assassinations.

Before the current "surge," the military crackdown in the capital, the mosques would always call residents to defend the area from attacks by Shiite Muslim militiamen. The men would grab their AK-47s and fan out on the rooftops. Sometimes the shooting went on for an hour.

It had been quieter lately because the Shiite militias were lying low. But we knew it was only a matter of time before U.S. and Iraqi forces would come to search for armed militants.

Read the rest at the LA Times