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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
My day in Iraq: War veteran
On Friday, 7 April, the BBC News website is asking people across Iraq how they live their lives.

Here you can read more from Tarek Yasin, 47, a Shia-born secular engineer and war veteran from Baghdad.


The situation in Iraq can be described as a humanitarian disaster.

Iraqis and those surrounding them and those who came to liberate them have all caused this disaster.

We live inside a minefield without any warning signs whatsoever, and escaping death rests merely on coincidence.

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When you go out every day those who say goodbye to you wish you a safe return, and when you return you and your family thank God for being safe and sound.

The fear begins from the first waking moment, it follows you to the bathroom where you shave without electricity, and outside our home where you inspect the streets for any ambushes or rigged cars or absurd killers who would kill you without even knowing why.

Your car passes between hundreds of others, any of which could easily spell your death.

US armoured vehicles in Baghdad terrorise you and Iraqi army and police vehicles scare you. Your death comes either from them or from those who would kill them and take you along as well.

I witness daily free political discourse, insults and compliments heaped upon politicians, religious leaders and businessmen.

Bandits and nutcases have become politicians, interviewed on satellite television stations.

Just hire yourself a bunch of gunmen to protect you, and find some financial support, and - presto! - you're a political leader.

The fear now is of an all-out war between Iraqis themselves.

It is not yet declared publicly, but you can detect it in the subtle language used by Iraqis when they try to find out the religious identity of victims of violence.

Nights of fear

Everything in Iraq is heading for the unknown.

No use thinking of your future and your dreams and of tomorrow, as the day you have just survived will be easier than the days ahead.

Long hours and a constant quest for the basic needs define our life.

Private generators have become very common, and prices and terms of use are dictated by the owner.

You must go home before eight, otherwise you're in violation of the now-permanent curfew.

I was forced to go (to war with Iran) despite my absolute conviction that it was illegitimate, and that I'm no party to it

You lock yourself in, scared as you are of bandits or murderers or the national guard or the American army. Your fear keeps you up all night.

The numerous days off we get are absolutely useless as we don't do anything but wait at home for meal after meal.

Even the best memories I have are bitter. I have lived many wars since graduating from college in 1980. I was a soldier in our war against Iran, on the battlefront for more than a year.

I was forced to go there despite my absolute conviction that it was illegitimate, and that I'm no party to it.

When it was over, I fired three shots for the first time in my life, for even though I stayed for all that time on the front, I did not fire a single shot against the Iranians.

Here we are now, living a war between our political leaders who are entrenched, each in his own position against the others.

There is a strong, justified feeling that Iran has a role in prolonging the violence and that we are paying the price once again.

In brief, we have law and a government, but they're both in suspension.




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