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Blogger: Iraqis tackling their problems

Iraqis are getting used to seeing tanks and checkpoints, says a Baghdad blogger known as Salam Pax.
Iraqis are getting used to seeing tanks and checkpoints, says a Baghdad blogger known as Salam Pax.

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Baghdad is a work in progress after Saddam Hussein. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.
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BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An Iraqi who called himself Salam Pax became well-known on the Internet during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Written in Baghdad cafes, his online diary, or blog, offered an uncensored account of the war.

Pax, who chooses to remain anonymous, discussed the situation in Iraq and his new book based on his blog with CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer on Tuesday.

HEMMER: What are some of the misconceptions people have about Iraq?

PAX: People would say, "Look, Iraqis are sitting, waiting for coalition forces, Americans, to do stuff for them," and this is really not very correct because I mean, you might see it in the media, but what's happening is private businesses are up. Private banks are up and running.

People are trying to solve the problems they can solve and neighborhoods and communities; you try to do something. You don't sit and do nothing about it.

But we need the help of the coalition forces for the bigger stuff. I mean, getting ministries up and running. Of course, we can't do this alone. We need help there, but it's not like Iraqis are doing nothing and waiting for someone else to do it for them. This is not correct.

Look, it's -- on the electricity thing, one thing people always forget is that electricity was bad before the war. It was used always as some sort of a political tool. If you are bad, they're going to cut the electricity. That's Saddam's regime.

Now what happened is that they're making sure that all of Iraq gets the same electricity all of the time, which is not much.

HEMMER: All of this is a work in progress, as we've noted. Going back to the end of the war or major combat anyway. What's the danger for you right now in trying to keep your identity secret? Why not go public?

PAX: Well, there are two things. First, I've written about people, and I'm still blogging about certain people, political parties, religious groups, and it doesn't make me feel very comfortable when they really know who I am. I still see them. I still meet them. I still talk with them.

HEMMER: Why is that then?

PAX: Look, I mean ... we might have been "liberated," but it's still not very safe in Baghdad. Anybody can go and kill anyone now on the street for any reason. And it happens, it does happen. That's why people are upset with the security situation because these things are very difficult to control.

We still don't have laws, very clear laws. So it's still not very safe, and the second reason is, I mean, all bloggers have pseudonyms -- go check web blogs, and when you write something bad about your boss, you don't want him to go online [and] know who's writing this because you'll get fired. This is what I've done.

HEMMER: Tell me how people are adapting right now in Iraq. I'm certain you have heard countless stories and seen countless cases yourself. How has the adaptation process been for them now four or five months down the road?

PAX: Look, it's a bit difficult. When your city has suddenly changed so much, you get used to things that aren't really very normal. You have tanks around the streets. You have checkpoints with people with huge guns in their hands, and the worrying thing is you get used to it. That's really worrying. You don't see these things anymore.

They are all over the city. Your city is still burned, bombed. You still see the wreckage. It feels like a war zone. You adapt to it because humans are like that because you have to go on living, and that's wonderful, but it's really bad when you get used to it. It shouldn't be normal. This is not normal.

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