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Rula Amin: Revenge a concern now

Amin
CNN's Rula Amin

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Revelers in Saddam City in eastern Baghdad took to the streets Wednesday -- just days ago under the grip of Saddam Hussein's regime -- looting government buildings and cheering American forces.

Video from the scene showed jubilant Iraqis chanting, "There is only one God, and the enemy of God is Saddam Hussein."

CNN's Rula Amin, who has spent years as a journalist in Iraq and is now in Jordan, spoke with CNN anchor Carol Costello about the demonstrations and fears of anarchy in Baghdad.

RULA AMIN: It's a very astonishing scene.

Residents of Saddam City have been waiting for this moment, but I don't know how much faith they had that it would come.

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All the signs are saying that [Saddam's] regime is collapsing. But the U.S. is cautioning that this is not over yet.

However, residents of Saddam City seemed to have made up their minds: It's over. Saddam Hussein no longer matters. And his security forces don't matter any more.

That's why they are on the streets, cheering his fall, cheering the fall of the ruling Baath Party, welcoming U.S. troops and saying 'thank you' to President Bush.

This is a very expected welcome from these people, specifically. Saddam City is a very large, poor, overpopulated neighborhood of mostly Shiite Iraqis.

Many of them have been in Saddam's prisons. Some of their neighbors and relatives have been killed by his security forces. Other relatives have fled the country to get away from Saddam's regime.

There is a very strong opposition to Saddam Hussein among these people. So it's no wonder that they're so happy to see them go.

We did see these cheerful crowds, and we also saw looting. People just went everywhere -- to any government building they could find -- and looted.

They went to the trade ministry, they went to the university, they went to the U.N. headquarters. They took everything they could put their hands on: chairs, plastic flowers, documents, safes and more.

We even saw them cutting out refrigerators - obviously someone didn't want to take it and left it there - and we saw people checking to see what's inside the refrigerator.

We have to remember this is a very poor neighborhood. And after 12 years of sanctions, it's even poorer than it had been. So anything is valuable.

However, we also have to remember this is only one neighborhood of Baghdad. There are 2 million people in Saddam City, and they have been angry about Saddam's regime.

But these scenes of looting are going to cause a lot of concern and alarm among many residents of Baghdad and the rest of Iraq.

This is a moment that people have been fearing, even those who are very opposed to the regime, who have been wanting and anticipating the fall of the regime.

They always voiced concern, when I was in Baghdad, about what happens when [Saddam] falls. What comes next? Who's going to take over?

There was fear that there would be chaos in Iraq -- no law and order, that the country would disintegrate.

And there's also concern and fear of people trying to settle old scores. Many people in Iraq are very angry at the regime.

Those who supported the regime -- who were members of the ruling Baath Party, people who benefited from the regime, people who were government officials, even on a level of bureaucrats and technocrats, who benefited from the government -- must be very concerned now that someone, somewhere, will try to settle old scores, just to let the anger out after so many years of oppression.


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