A Baghdadi Blogger

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt of a recent entry from "Dear Raed," a weblog authored by a 29-year old anonymous resident of Baghdad who calls himself Salam Pax (two words with the same meaning: peace). If you want to learn more about Salam himself, you can visit his main or mirror site, or read news coverage of this increasingly popular blogger.

March 23, Day Four at 8:30 pm:

We start counting the hours from the moment one of the news channels report that the B52s have left their airfield. It takes them around six hours to get to Iraq. On the first day of the bombing, it worked precisely. Yesterday we were a bit surprised that after six hours bombs didn't start falling. The attacks on Baghdad were much less than two days ago. We found out today in the news that the city of Tikrit got the hell bombed out of it. Today the B52s took off at 3 pm -- in half an hour we will know whether it is Baghdad tonight or another city. Karbala was also hit last night.

Today's (and last night's) shock attacks didn't come from airplanes but rather from the airwaves. The images Al-Jazeera is broadcasting are beyond any description. First was the attack on Ansar el Islam camp in the north of Iraq. Then the images of civilian casualties in Basra city. What was most disturbing are the images from the hospitals. They are simply not prepared to deal with these things. People were lying on the floor with bandages and blood all over.

If this is what "urban warfare" is going to look like, we're in for disaster. And just now the images of U.S./U.K. prisoners and dead. We saw these on Iraqi TV earlier. This war is starting to show its ugly, ugly face to the world.

The media wars have also started -- Al-Jazeera accusing the pentagon of not showing how horrific this war is turning out to be and Rumsfeld saying that it is regrettable that some TV stations have shown the images.

Today before noon I went out with my cousin to take a look at the city. Two things: 1) the attacks are precise; 2) they are attacking targets which are just too close to civilian areas in Baghdad. Looked at the Salam palace and the houses around it. Quite scary near it and you can see windows with broken glass till very far off.

At another neighborhood, I saw a very unexpected "target." It is an officers' club of some sorts smack in the middle of *** district. I guess it was not severely hit because it was still standing. But the houses around it, and this is next door and across the street, were damaged. One of them is rubble the rest are clearing away glass and rubble. A garbage car stands near the most damaged houses and helps with the cleaning up.

Generally the streets are quite busy. Lots of cars but not many shops open. The market near our house is almost empty now. The shop owner says that all the wholesale markets in Shorjah are closed now but the prices of vegetables and fruits have gone down to normal and are available.

While buying groceries the woman who sells the vegetables was talking to another about the approach of American armies to Najaf city and about what is happening at Um Qasar and Basra. If Um Qasar is so difficult to control what will happen when they get to Baghdad? It will turn uglier and this is very worrying.

People (and I bet "allied forces") were expecting things to be much easier. There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they surrendering by the thousands. People are doing what all of us are -- sitting in their homes hoping that a bomb doesn't fall on them and keeping their doors shut.

The smoke columns have now encircled Baghdad, well almost. The winds blow generally to the east which leaves the western side of Baghdad clear. But when it comes in the way of the sun it covers it totally. It is a very thick cloud. We are going to have some very dark days, literally.

We still have electricity; some areas in Baghdad don't after last night's attack. Running water and phones are working.

According to the Guardian, Salam Pax is a pseudonym for "a 29-year-old, middle-class man somewhere in the suburbs of the Iraqi capital has become one of the most intriguing stories on the internet. Known simply as Salam Pax, his online diary has fascinated the web's myriad users with its sharp observations of a tumultuous six months for the beleaguered Iraqi nation that has included a presidential election, yet another UN resolution, its resulting weapons inspectors and, of course, the approach of war."

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