Majid Hameed Salloom asks. "We want to live
peacefully," the high-school English teacher says in
his gentle voice, tinged with a British accent.
He has just picked up $1,300 from a claim with the
Marines for breaking down a wall around his
property. He is happy, but it's a matter of the
moment. The larger problems in the city of his
birth bring out an intensity in the small man,
dressed in matching shirt and pants, a dusty blue.
Salloom is counting on America to lift the turmoil
from Fallujah. "We suffered a lot from the last
regime, may God curse him," he says, but the
people here have seen little relief yet from the new
power in Iraq.
The teacher welcomes his recently higher pay, and
this new freedom to criticize. But the Americans
"are in need of advice," he suggests. He has some,
and means no disrespect when he says, "Finish
liberating Fallujah, and go away."
"We are fed up of clashes. We are fed up of battles.
We hate insurgents." But he considers the Iraqi
Army soldiers the Americans have stood up in the
city to be enemies, too. They are outsiders, Shia
Muslims. He wants to see a Fallujah-raised force,
men from this town, Sunnis who know its people.
And more local police, too. "The terrorists have
begun to shoot the Fallujah policemen." The police
are weak, so if their numbers were increased, he
says, the balance could swing and "break the back"
of the terrorists. He thinks their trouble with the
insurgency is good. "Nowadays, the policemen are
sharpening their teeth against the insurgents."
The 40-year-old has seven children. He doesn't
think much of the U.S. attempt to win them. "You
can't attract them by distributing dolls, sweets and
footballs." The only way is to truly help the
people, he says.
For him, that means basic utilities. He is struggling
to feed his family. This is a country of oil, but he is
using the trunks of his neighbor's trees as fuel to
cook with. "If you want to win the people of
Fallujah, mend the electricity. People will adore
you." He wants the Americans to buy 10 big
generators from Germany for the neighborhoods,
he says. Let the Iraqis work it out from there.
Electricity. Phone service. More police. Security.
The people in his city have great needs, and they
look to their occupiers to provide.
If the U.S. fails, it can't win, he says. "If these
steps are not achieved, so it is in vain. It is useless.
You are tiring yourselves." But if the U.S.
succeeds, he says, "You can leave."