First hand opinions of Iraq

This TIME page has questions from (American) readers and answers from Iraqis. It is very interesting to get the impression from eyewitnesses and it shows just how much violence is a part of every day life. There are a few differing points of view.

What do you think of the American soldiers stationed in Iraq? Are they an annoyance? A help? Just part of the scenery?

Ali Fahad responds:

I don’t have any negative feelings toward them, because they’re part of the situation in Iraq. Through my work, I’ve been on a lot of bases with correspondents. When I see an American soldier on the base, he’s a human being. He’s so kind and helpful. On the other hand, when he is in the street, probably because he has orders, he’s a completely different person. I can feel he’s been given an order not to talk to anyone, to be careful and be attentive.

They deal with people in a tough, aggressive way, probably because they don’t understand the Iraqi personality or the culture. For example, when they arrest someone, they push him on the ground and put something over his head and tie his hands behind his back. For an Iraqi, this is something really awful.

When the soldiers drive, they are in a hurry and they don’t care who’s in the street. They’re on alert, and that can cause problems. If something happens suddenly and they start shooting wildly, for an ordinary Iraqi citizen, who is in the street, what is his guilt? That is why when I see the convoys on the street, I feel a bit edgy.

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