- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD Saddam Hussein's capital is turning into a city with two lives, determined by the rhythm of the air raids, which are heaviest after dark.
At night, people stay at home or in bomb shelters. By day, they emerge to buy food and check on relatives.
Despite the tension, traffic was heavy yesterday in parts of Baghdad.
Shops reopened in the heart of the city, but suitcase vendors conducted most of the business along the commercial Al-Rasheed Street.
At the city's main bus terminal, dozens of street hawkers yelled out for customers, selling everything from batteries to candy, soft drinks and sandwiches as hundreds of soldiers and civilians milled around the area.
By day, people venture out under gray clouds of smoke from burning oil in trenches throughout the city a futile attempt to foil American bombers whose payloads are directed by satellite, not sight.
Many women say they use the morning lull to prepare the evening meal before the bombardment starts.
Even when a huge explosion rocked the city during the day, most residents ignored it.
"I got a chicken and some vegetables to cook a decent meal for the children today. I could not cook yesterday," said Um Bassel, referring to repeated daylight air strikes during the weekend.
Raids continue to shake Baghdad nightly as U.S. armored columns push northward toward the capital, the main objective in the war to topple Saddam.
Despite the feverish food shopping in the day, Baghdad is far from normal. Soldiers with rifles patrol the streets. Traffic policemen wearing camouflage helmets man checkpoints.
The extent of bomb damage to military positions and intelligence headquarters is not visible from the street, but some debris indicates they have been targeted.
Adults say they have learned to cope with the blitz but are distressed that their children have to endure it.
"My grandchild now jumps at hearing a door slamming, so imagine what is happening to him when he hears the missiles striking. What have these children done to live like that?" added Umm Hanan, 50, who also was shopping for food.
To the U.S. military, the presence of automobile and pedestrian traffic testifies to the accuracy of the bombs and the care with which targets are selected.
"It is very, very carefully done. It is very carefully planned, and at least up to this point I believe has been magnificently executed," allied commander Gen. Tommy Franks told reporters yesterday at U.S. Central Command regional headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
Still, many Baghdadis resent having to go through a third war in two decades one they blame on the United States.
"We've got nothing to do with this war. It is out of our control. The Americans are imposing it on us. This is our country; where can we go? We're staying here," Ali Shaker said.
"We are peaceful people. We're not meddling in the business of anybody. Why are they coming to hurt us? We haven't done anything to anybody," said Um Bassel, 45.
On the streets, the talk was of how long the war would last. Many seemed more interested in surviving the conflict than in its outcome.
"People want peace. They don't care about the regime or the Americans. Their main priority is the safety of their women and children," said Moataz Sadeq, 48, a teacher.
Announcers on Iraq's two television stations have started wearing olive-green military uniforms to introduce patriotic songs, archival footage of Saddam and old films with patriotic messages.
On Sunday evening, a man reading a poem of love for Saddam was so moved that he burst into tears.
News of war protests around the world and condemnations of the U.S.-led attack have dominated the front pages of Iraqi newspapers, along with updates of Iraqi leadership meetings and a daily military communique.
Senior Iraqi officials, meanwhile, tell stories of heroic resistance shown by Iraqi forces in the face of U.S. and British attacks in the south of the country.
"We have lured them into a quagmire, and they will never leave it," said Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
"We beg them to come to Baghdad so that we can teach them a lesson," said Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.

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