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Jim Clancy: Baghdad protesters decry chaos

CNN's Jim Clancy
CNN's Jim Clancy

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Looting and lawlessness may be calming down in Baghdad as joint U.S.-Iraqi police patrols get under way, but demonstrators have started protesting the disorder.

CNN Correspondent Jim Clancy talked Monday to CNN Anchor Carol Costello about the situation in the Iraqi capital. Below is a partial transcript of that conversation.

CLANCY: The protest is not very large. It's very vocal. ... What we're looking at really is the Iraqis stretching out, getting a feel for what President Bush told them to do, become liberated, have freedom. They're expressing freedom of speech standing in a square.

They've come to the Palestine Hotel, where there must be 2,500 journalists, satellite dishes and television cameras pointing to TV screens in living rooms all around the world. What better place -- even if you're only 25 or 30 people -- [for] a lot of people ... to see your protest.

And they did turn it on President Bush. There have been all kinds of demonstrations throughout the day with varying themes. Some of them protesting the U.S. presence in the capital. Some of them saying they want an Iraqi leader, not a U.S. general, in charge of their country.

Some others even are saying, "Long live the Baath Party." Now that was the party, the political structure that supported President Saddam Hussein, but not a single person was raising his or her voice for [Saddam's] return here.

Meanwhile, overnight outside the hotel ... there was a firefight. There was a sniper who opened fire on U.S. troops. They responded in force. Three suspects were arrested. They were security guards at a nearby club.

Now although they're in custody and they are being questioned, it may be unlikely that they were actually involved in the sniping incident because that is one of the most exclusive clubs in the entire city.

And as a result, they did have people there. In fact, the police had just met there the day before. It is a very nice, posh club, where only the elite in Baghdad would go. It is only logical they would have some security guards in there. But whoever fired the shots at the Marines remains undetermined. No injuries were reported.

On the streets of Baghdad, there is a welcomed site as police return to the streets. There are going to be joint patrols with unarmed Iraqi policemen traveling around the city with heavily armed U.S. Marines. There has been a retreat by the looters back to their homes. So there's a lot of hope here that order is returning to the capital, albeit slowly. There are still some areas, Carol, that are very insecure, but there's also a sense here that things are coming under control.

COSTELLO: Hopefully so. I wanted to ask you, too, if other Iraqi civil servants have now gone back to work?

CLANCY: Well, others have. In fact, I was out at the power plant for a couple of days running. Electricity is key here. It brings back the street lights -- which would help control looting at night and things like that, but it is also key for the very life of this city. There are critical health issues involved here. Hospitals need electricity, and power is essential for water and sanitation for this city.

Now the workers at the electrical plant say they went back to work. They surveyed those sites and the power plants around the cities. Some minor repairs are needed. Most of the problem appears to be in the power grid.

That's going to make a huge difference here -- a difference that all of the people in Baghdad can see. It will send a message that at least someone's in charge, someone is able to turn the lights on in Baghdad.

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