'No Saddam, no security either'

Six years after the fall of Baghdad, an Iraqi explains why he yearns for the old days.

    Many Iraqis initially celebrated the demise of Saddam's Baathist regime [GALLO/GETTY]

    Six years after the fall of Baghdad, one Iraqi tells Al Jazeera why he now yearns for the stability and security of life under Saddam Hussein.

    I am Asaad Khalaf, I am 28-years old, married and have two children. I live in the Orfali district in Baghdad.

    Before the war, I used to trade in electrical and domestic stuff. Everything was going well with me and I used to make enough money for myself and my family.

    On April 9, 2003, I was near the Firdous Square, where the Americans toppled Saddam's statue.

    At the beginning, I felt happy, thinking that we would get rid of the dictator and his Baath party.

    But, soon after, I regretted all of that.

    I had seen horrible scenes that I did never see in my life. Killing, looting, as well as damage ... all started right after the US invasion.

    "People are not asking for papers any more ... because they don't believe what is written there"

    After that, I first worked as a newspaper seller. I used to have a very good income from selling papers due to the fact that there were no computers, internet or news.

    People were eager to receive the paper on a daily basis. No matter how much it used to cost, I could sell all that I had.

    People are not asking for papers any more and moreover, they don't want to receive them because they don't believe what is written there. The reason for that is the lack of credibility in the news as there are so many newspapers and so many TV stations.

    I used to live a better life than now. Nowadays, we pay for everything - gas, electricity and everything. Even water I pay for it.

    Medical treatment

    My daughter, Fatyma, had a defect of birth which needs treatment.

    So far, I have spent one million dinars on her and I can't always guarantee making all the money needed for her treatment.

    When I go to the Wasiti hospital, which is a government one, they give me very far-off appointment. When I went to a private hospital, the operation was done the next day.

    In the past, we used to live in better security conditions.

    I used to serve in the army and I used to go back home at three or four in the morning and it was OK to do so.

    Initially happy to see Saddam's demise, Asaad now yearns for the security of the past

    Nowadays, after the Isha prayer, after seven in the evening, nobody could stay in the street.

    Our life was better before, I work very hard, but gain only a little. I'm Iraqi, but have nothing in Iraq.

    It is not easy to find a job, if I go to hotels, they don't hire me unless I have a relative there or someone whom I know. Unemployment is overwhelming in the country.

    Despite the improvement in the security conditions, still we need more.

    For me, I wish for the security companies to leave and for the Iraqi army to take over because - according to the officials - our military forces are ready.

    I have to wake up at 5.30am to pray and then go out to work.

    I go to Bab al-Moadham area in central Baghdad and I start working from there where I collect a quantity of newspapers in order to distribute them to customers.

    Sometimes I'm late because of the traffic, like 9am which is too late for someone who reads papers.

    I wish for the old days to come back because of security.

    Security, it is the most important thing.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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