Living in an Iraq Still at War, Five Years Later Saleem Amer, an NPR staff member in Iraq, talks about what it's like to live in Baghdad five years after the U.S. invasion. Since the war began, Amer has gotten married, welcomed a baby with his wife and moved after his neighborhood became too dangerous.
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Living in an Iraq Still at War, Five Years Later

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Living in an Iraq Still at War, Five Years Later

Living in an Iraq Still at War, Five Years Later

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Since the war began, NPR's Iraqi staffer Saleem Amer has shared stories with us about his family. A few years into the war, Saleem Amer became a husband and then a father. Last year he and his family decided to move out of their home - it was a house his own father had built - because the neighborhood was too dangerous.

To get a feel for what it's like five years into the war to wake up each morning in Baghdad, we turned again to Saleem. Welcome.

SALEEM AMER: Hi, ma'am.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with your new neighborhood. You moved there last spring. Have you found it to be actually safer?

AMER: Nothing in Baghdad is safe totally. But it's just a little bit different. You know, we don't have any sectarian problems over here. But regarding IEDs and car bombs, it's everywhere. But regarding sectarian problems, no. It's a majority Christian neighborhood. It's safer than my old neighborhood.

MONTAGNE: Does it feel like home? I mean, you left a home that your father built.

AMER: No. For sure, you know, I lost all my friends, all people that I raised with for a long time. Truly I didn't felt like I'm home.

MONTAGNE: You know, one thing that you told us was that your father was afraid that if you left the house - and that was a big debate in the family - that either the militias or the government would use your abandoned home as a base. Do you know if that's happened? Has it been taken over?

AMER: If you have a good neighbor, that he can help out, they will take over the house. So far, you know, my house is at the same situation. You know, just a neighbor living on it, which is make us feel that it's okay, you know. And probably in the next two or three months we're going to head out back home. Because area is getting better than what it used to be.

MONTAGNE: Well, that's good news.

AMER: The security forces is doing very good over here in Baghdad. The American forces just started to understand the Iraqi society and how to deal with it. And all these, all these, all these facts just helped to put, you know, a better security situation than what we used to have last year.

MONTAGNE: Now, you and your wife have a young son. Is it possible now to do something as simple as taking him out to play?

AMER: It is possible, actually. But as a reporter, you know, a lot of things that majority of Iraqis does not know, I always try to take extra security procedures ahead before taking them out. Normally the only conduct - I took my wife and my son, it was like two months ago and that's it. You know, we never went out anymore. Even if want to go, we want to go to a close by area.

Ten days ago there were explosion in Karada, the area that me and my wife usually goes to, and killed more than 50 people and injured around 100 other.

MONTAGNE: So it's really a mix at this point in time, five years in. But before your son's birth, you sent us an audio letter about how you were preparing for a child to come into the world in a war zone. Let's just play a little bit of that essay.

AMER: People I work with think I'm lucky because I'm about to be a father and have nothing to worry about. I try my best to show this side so I won't have to think about the future. Why would I want to bring an innocent child into a bloody, savage world? I don't. I regret what I did. I got my wife pregnant in Baghdad.

MONTAGNE: That's a pretty strong statement that you made at the time. At this point do you think your son has a future in Baghdad?

AMER: Inside me I still have that feeling. You know, I still regretting getting married at the beginning. Because the situation is still difficult over here, and life is very difficult. You know, I'm in the street all the time. So I don't want to leave a wife and a son behind me (unintelligible) so I'm still having that feeling.

But sometimes I'm trying to convince myself that the situation is better. But so far it's still the same. You know, as Iraqis the future for us is not more than a week maybe, you know, because you cannot ensure your life after that.

MONTAGNE: Well, Saleem, thank you for talking with us about this.

AMER: Thank you, ma'am.

MONTAGNE: Saleem Amer works at NPR's bureau in Baghdad.

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