Anarchy in Baghdad
Aired May 13, 2003 - 07:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have a little bit more on this. Right now, we can bring in "Washington Post" reporter Carol Morello. We've tracked her down in Baghdad. But Carol spent a good amount of time in Riyadh during the war, and as I said, joining us today from Baghdad.
CAROL MORELLO, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Hello. Good morning.
KAGAN: Can you tell us your reaction to what happened in Riyadh?
MORELLO: Well, I think a lot of people have been expecting this to happen since the war began. A week or so before the war began, the government rounded up dozens, maybe hundreds, of known extremists, because there was so much growing anger over the war and a sense the United States was waging a war against Muslims. And so, they rounded up all of these known extremists.
But there were three or four who they knew about who had escaped a few days before the security forces came. And then, of course, there were the ones that they didn't even know about.
So, if you would talk with people who had contact with the extremists, they would tell you that somehow they were able to get messages out from house arrests, and they were openly calling for jihad. So, it's really been a matter of when this would happen, rather than if it would happen.
KAGAN: And unfortunately it did come to pass. In the couple of minutes we have left I want to talk with you about the topic we actually originally wanted to be discussing with you, and that is the situation of the unrest in Baghdad. A number of reports coming out in your paper in "The Washington Post" focusing especially on the predicament of women, that it's so dangerous that you really don't see a lot of women on the streets of Baghdad.
MORELLO: Well, this is -- this city looks very much like a city of men. You rarely see women around. When you talk with women, when you can track them down in their houses, they'll tell you they're scared out of their wits by the lawlessness.
There is a growing sense here that the lawlessness has been increasing. The looters had started out against the government ministries, then they started doing carjackings, and now many people are saying that there are reports of criminals going into peoples' homes and committing murders and carjackings and theft. So, people are very afraid. Also, there is still no electricity here.
So, women in particular are not having any sort of input into all of the political talks that are going on. There are scores of political parties here, and most of the women you talk to don't even know what these parties are. So, they have nowhere to go, no way to find out about anything.
There was a sense they had hoped that they would not be in this situation at this point. But, in fact, it seems to be getting worse. You hear more gunfire at night than you did even a few days ago.
And so, there are supposed to be some more police on the streets. But you can drive around the city, the size of Los Angeles or Chicago, you can spend a whole day driving around the city without seeing a single police officer.
KAGAN: And so another impact of this, families are not allowing their teenage daughters or young daughters to go to school, because they want to keep them home and keep them safe.
MORELLO: A lot of children -- a lot of parents are not sending their children to school.
But also, you know, the women themselves, you know, middle-aged women who used to go out and about in the city. They held professional jobs. Iraq has been educating women for decades. It had some of the first doctors and university professors and engineers in the Arab world, at least women doctors and professionals. And they're just staying home. They're trying to do household chores.
It's not just young women that they're keeping home; it's all women who used to go out to jobs that no longer exist. So, they're staying home and they're sending their husbands and sons out do the grocery shopping.
KAGAN: Just real quickly, you, as a Western woman, do you feel safe working and reporting from there?
MORELLO: It's clear I stand out as a Western woman if for no other reason than the way I dress. I usually don't go around myself. I have someone who drives me places, and I have a translator. But -- so, I do not feel unsafe, but I am always a little wary and try to stay away from people who I think look a little menacing.
KAGAN: Well, you keep that guard up, you stay safe, and we'll continue to look for your pieces in "The Washington Post" and online at washingtonpost.com.
Carol Morello, thanks for joining us from Baghdad.
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